Hydro-electro-phonic-funk. Those are the words that come to mind when I try to fit Harrisonburg’s most popular jam band- the Deems, into a musical genre. The Deems, previously known to some of you as the Sour Deemsters, have become a staple in the Harrisonburg music scene and have developed a significant following, affectionately called “the Deem Team.”
The Deems are a unique band in that they span the continuum of the Harrisonburg music scene, from JMU house parties to downtown venues like Blue Nile, Clementine, and the Artful Dodger. I have to say, regardless of where they perform, the Deems consistently deliver a great show characterized by laser lights and an audience that just can’t help but dance.
The band’s set lists are a mix of originals with the occasional Beatles or Phish cover thrown in. The Deems combine vocals with guitar, bass, keyboard, and drums, not to mention their habit of highlighting other instruments, resulting in great variety.
I’ve been a fan of the Deems for a while now, so last week when I heard there was a show on Thursday at the Blue Nile, I knew I had to attend! Nate Sacks started off the night with an acoustic set. Next up were the Deems with Mitch Waranch on guitar, Evan Morris on keyboard, Andrew Hollifield on bass, and John Armstrong on drums. As usual, the show did not disappoint, with just a $5 cover for hours of awesome music, saxophone and trombone solos included, and something that can only be described as “good vibes.”
One of the greatest aspects of a Deems show is how involved the audience gets with the music. I thought Thursday night would be a great opportunity for me to hear straight from the fans what they love about the Deems and what keeps them coming back for more. JMU senior Becky Peterson said, “They have great stage presence and energy! Their music is really good. I love the variety of sounds and instruments they experiment with.” Becky also noted that “the Blue Nile only adds to the atmosphere” and provides a great space for the audience to “jam.”
Another JMU senior, Jessica Jenkins, described the show as “crazy, intense, and wildly psychedelic” (as is certainly evident in the pictures). Jessica said what sets the Deems apart from other bands is that their performance is “a real show with lights, a fun atmosphere,” and most importantly, “band members that look like they’re having fun.”
Both Jessica and Becky expressed excitement for the next Deems’ show coming up on Thursday, April 5th at 9:30 pm at Clementine. As usual, the show is only a $5 cover.
Katina Stevenson is the Promotions Intern for Spring 2012. She is a senior Communication Studies major with a concentration in Public Relations at James Madison University.