Ahh.. the summer festival: a sea of red neck, tube top-muffins and old guy 80s cover bands. Naturally, Grand Rapids’ annual Festival of the Arts is much of the same. If not for the dozens and dozens of food stands, I might have thrown my hands up, and called a day best spent people watching. But after finding the community group stage, the old guy stage, and the stage that seemed to be completely resigned to bag pipes and kilts—like, what??—I finally found something to be desired. This was the young folk’s stage—for indie bands and anyone between the ages of 15 and 45. By the time I found the young stage, The Jet Beats were walking up with some pretty low expectations in my mind. But, not only did they right the ship, but turned me into a Festival of the Arts believer. A group with 1964 style and neo-blues growl, The Jet Beats brought their collection of originals and British Invasion covers to a very impressed crowd.
Playing festivals isn’t easy, just ask Alice Cooper. Most of the seats are empty, it’s the middle of the day, hot, and most of your sweaty, cheese-clogged audience is looking to gargle stick meat over listen to you play. Not to be caught off guard, The Jet Beats took the stage with short sleeve button up shirts—looks punky and beats the heat! The band’s sound is rock steady, jumpy and thrashing. With fast paced covers like “I Saw Her Standing There,” and “You Really Got Me,” the group built an energy and pulled us all away from our cheese curds long enough to sing along.
This three piece has all the ingredients you need, and no key boards, computers, or other expensive, tasteless, post-post production drool—how much does your mom pay you to be in a band, anyway?? There’s no hiding in a blues trio, and that’s the best part: all parties have to work harder. And to make The Jet Beats even better, each of them had their own stage presence. Our photographer loved shooting the bassist, who swapped his pose every other measure. The drummer carried an ever-cool persona, and the guitarist rocked his Irish punk look with a playfully brutish nature. To match, there’s no excuse for a lazy guitarist in a blues trio: coupled with a tsunami of bridge pickup on a Fender Jaguar, the raw solos perfectly climaxed the group’s jams. Suffice to say, everyone left perfectly satisfied.
The show ended with a surprise guest, from the band that was supposed to have the Jet Beats’ spot. Just like in “Do That Thing You Do,” you never break your wrist before the big show! A fantastic celeb-shot of a show end, to a better show. And no, I don’t know who that guy was…
Photographs by Mallory Patterson
Written by Frank Cass