Jam band livens cold winter day

Morgan Engels, Clarion Staff Writer

As the historic recalls moved into their next phases here in Wisconsin, GOP debates raged on in South Carolina and violence continued in Syria, a crowd of 220 came together to celebrate the return of San Francisco jam band, Tea Leaf Green to Madison.

The concert was held Jan. 19 at the High Noon Saloon as part of a nationwide tour for the band’s new album “Radio Tragedy.” And like most Jam bands such as Phish and the Grateful Dead, the show brought out is loyal followers.

“I love Tea Leaf Green, I’ve been listening to them for four years,” said Mellissa Sanchez, a graphic design major at the University of Milwaukee seeing them for the fourth time.

“First I saw them in Milwaukee, then I drove out to Minnesota to see them, and then I saw them again in Chicago,” she said.

Like Mellissa, Adam Wilton, age 34 and a local property manager had driven far and near to experience Tea Leaf Green live.

“I’ve seen them here a few times, and I once drove up to 10,000 lakes festival in Minnesota to see them,” he said.

Opening for Tea Leaf Green was Springfield, Mo., band, Ha Ha Tonka.

“I love playing in Madison,” said Brian Roberts, front man for Ha Ha Tonka. He described his love for the crowd Madison provides and then declared the Wisconsin Capitol the best.

“It’s cool, it doesn’t seem to matter what day of the week it is, people are always ready to get rowdy,” said Lennon Bone, drummer for Ha Ha Tonka, as he took a sip from the cup of tea he was holding.

The show was exactly the type of concert you would expect in a Madison saloon. Strangers and friends shot pool, socialized, drank beer and the occasional mixed drink, and rocked out together. A booth was also present by a political grassroots organization known as Headcount which, according to the group’s website, “uses the power of music to register voters and raise political consciousness.” Meanwhile, at the front towards the stage, fans huddled together jumping around, flailing their arms, banging and rolling their heads every which direction, surrendering themselves to the music.

It was the type of show where people go to cut loose, relax and hear a good song. Not one where postmodern hipsters simply go to be seen and bear witness to something first.

There was a noticeable lack of someone talking over the music about the superiority of the bands earlier work or dismissing certain fans for not recognizing the bands greatness as soon as they did. This was a crowd made up of people from every age group and demographic, from young college kids to middle age working class types, bonding over a love for the music that was playing. Every member of the crowd reacted to every song as if it was their favorite and they all knew the words, joining together singing, dancing and talking about how great the music was.