Giant Jam Sandwich: A FloydFest Family Picnic may have been an understatement for what went down this past Sunday at Elmwood Park in Roanoke, Virginia. Featuring full sets from TAUK, BIG Something, The Werks, The Mantras, People’s Blues of Richmond and Sol Searchers, the jams were at an all-time high. The temperature was also pretty high, but it didn’t stop anyone from grooving down at the base of the picturesque amphitheater.
The beautiful venue is situated right in downtown Roanoke, and there were plenty of areas with trees that provided much needed shade for the attendees. The music got started around noon with Sol Searchers, and continued into sundown, closing out with TAUK. Each band played for about an hour and half with a 30-minute break between sets. Afterwards, The Mantras played two more sets at Martin’s, a bar only blocks away from the venue.
The Across the Way Productions team knows exactly what it takes to put on a great event. The Mantras wasted no time getting into intricate and extended jams early into their first set of the day, after the local Sol Searchers had impressed early arrivers. The ‘Tras featured many songs from their 2010 record Dharland, which in many fans’ eyes is their signature album. The highlight of the set, without a doubt, was their tribute to the late Gregg Allman with a beautiful cover of “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More.” Lead singer Keith Allen shared with the crowd that Gregg Allman was his number one influence, which showed with his fantastic solo during the Allman jam.
After that came regional favorites People’s Blues of Richmond. These three dudes created havoc on the stage. They showed impossible energy (in relation to the sun and heat) for the entire set, and they brought plenty of distortion with them. PBR has elements of psychedelia, metal and classic rock all mashed into one hardcore blues sound, and they made the crowd thirsty for more.
Then it was time for The Werks. These Ohio rockers didn’t disappoint, featuring great alternating solos between Chris Houser and Dan Shaw. They showed their high intensity and progressive sound, but they also brought a side of funk. The highlight of the set was without a doubt their blistering cover of Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein,” which had the crowd losing their minds. But the party was still far from over.
Next up, it was time for the two headliners, BIG Something and TAUK. BIG Something always seems to crush it, each and every time I see them, and are very clearly getting better by the show. They paid a perfect tribute to the Allman Brothers Band with a smokin’ version of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” Jesse Hensley delivered a disgusting guitar solo, and as always, Casey Cranford crushed the sax and EWI, his awesome electronic wind controller. Rain began to fall a few songs into their set, but many were overjoyed with refreshment and others just crowded closer to the stage. It was a nice cool off from the sweltering heat that we had endured until then. BS later played their crowd favorite “Love Generator,” and looking around, there were smiles on just about every face in the crowd.
TAUK about a nice finish to the day. This Brooklyn quartet featured songs from their full discography, giving fans a complete experience of the band’s music. TAUK has been killing it recently, and are without a doubt one of the most buzzworthy jam bands today. Isaac Teel always crushes the drums, and he was on fire this night for sure. They bring this unique and intricate instrumental rock fusion, and it’s very clear that people can’t get enough. A.C. Carter holds it down on the keys, and he had some very impressive moments in this set as well. Opening with their newest single “Realize,” and going straight into the classic “Mindshift,” it was clear that they were going to end the Giant Jam Sandwich right. They later unleashed a lengthy, spacey version of “In The Basement Of The Alamo,” a standout from their debut album. TAUK ended on the same note with a blazing “Dead Signal,” also from their first record, and the crowd was absolutely blown away.
This all-day extravaganza was a perfect warmup for FloydFest, just a few months away, and it was great to see such talented bands at such a cheap ticket. What really made the event special was the people that were there, all with the same common mindset of spreading love and happiness while basking in the beautiful music.