When not providing one-half of the rhythm section in keyboardist Marco Benevento’s band, bassist Karina Rykman fronts her own band playing music that is a kaleidoscope of style, but is nonetheless heavy, freaky, and fun. On April 28, Rykman took her band down to Hot ’Lanta for a slot at the SweetWater 420 Festival, where the crossover appeal was in full effect underneath that burning Georgia sun.
In her signature skinny jeans, sneakers, and long wavy blonde hair, Rykman and her band played songs that fused dream-pop, hip-hop, and anthemic arena metal with a lyrical and vocal nod to Les Claypool. Rykman’s quirky vocal style sailed like a cannonball over heavy musical breakdowns, wild crescendos, and virtuoso-style guitar solos from guitarist Adam November that interchanged between soaring and spacey.
The set is thankfully on YouTube for those of us who couldn't make it to the Peach State. Skip to the 1:37:30 minute-mark (a six-hour upload, it includes a full day of performances) to catch a great example of the uncanny harmony of styles that Rykman and her group bring to the stage: a jam of her 2021 single "Arbitrary" that segues into the instrumental stoner/classic rock-influenced "Dirty South." The main riff and intense soloing of the latter would make Kirk Hammett or Jimmy Page smile, I think.
As for the idea of a full-fledged jam band-heavy metal fusion genre, the roots and ties are there; Led Zeppelin’s heavy and loose live renditions of “Dazed and Confused” are fine examples of purely improvised rock music; Deep Purple’s 20-minute take of “Space Truckin’” from Live in Japan is a musical odyssey that moves through time and space itself. Flip the coin, and you could land on one of the many times popular bands such as Widespread Panic and Govt' Mule have covered Black Sabbath in their sets. Then of course, there's Les Claypool's adventures in the jam scene. Coincidentally, Claypool was also at SweetWater 420, playing the following day with Oysterhead.
One thing is for sure: all the bands associated with either genre go for it hard with everything they do. Karina Rykman and her band are a perfect example of this.