Saturday, February 4, 2012
For the second time in their career, Rebelution made a trip to Music City, USA. The Cannery Ballroom in Nashville, Tennessee was full of eagerly awaiting fans, ready to take a break from the twang of country music and feel the good vibes of reggae. These Santa Barbara musicians provided just that.
The night started off with a hit from their first album, “Attention Span.” With lots of opportunities for the crowd to sing along and a chorus that says, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, once again for the night,” this was a very clever way to kick off the concert. Next came arguably the bands biggest hit, “Safe and Sound.” This song filed the crowd with energy that never wore out as long as Rebelution was on stage.
After opening with a couple of their classics, the band ventured into their new album, Peace of Mind. “Sky is the Limit” and “Comfort Zone” were played one after the other and proved why the album reached #13 on the Billboard 200 chart. During their new song “Good Vibes,” lead singer Eric Rachmany interacted with the fans by singing “Nashville’s bringing only good vibes” during the chorus. The band also brought the crowd into the show during “Night Crawler.” After singing, “once again Nashville is on a loving quest,” the music stopped, and each band member threw up their arms, encouraging the crowd to get louder and louder. This continued until their smiles were big enough to show they were satisfied, and once they were, they started back where they left off and finished off the song.
In addition to bonding with the crowd, Rebelution made their performance even better with special guests. The band brought up rappers Pep Love and The Grouch during “Closer I Get” and “Other Side” to add something new to their already amazing songs. While these hip-hop artists really got the crowd going, Rebelution added some energy with their musicianship and solos. Guitarist Rachmany and keyboard player Rory Carey impressed the crowd with their intricate solos as drummer Wesley Finley and bassist Marley Williams held down the beat and kept it groovin’ all night.
The first set of the night ended with a clever mash-up of two of their songs. Rebelution started off with the intro from their new song, “Lady in White,” then played “Green to Black” in its entirety, and finished off with the outro of “Lady in White.” This was just one of the examples of how the band changed up their songs throughout the night, making their live show unforgettable.
As they walked off the stage, cheers and chanting filled the Cannery Ballroom and eventually brought Rebelution back for two more songs. The encore started with “Outta Control,” and Rachmany once again got the audience involved by singing, “Nashville is out of control!” Rebelution closed out the concert with the laid back, “Lazy Afternoon.” The band let their 1,000 screaming fans take over lead vocals for the last chorus, making this a great way to end a fantastic show.
Rebelution put on a great show at the Cannery Ballroom and left Music City wanting more. The only criticism I have is I wish the band had played “Route Around.” This song is unlike anything else they have recorded and would have shown their calm and emotional side very well. But all in all, Rebelution puts on a show that will have you on your feet dancing, singing, and enjoying yourself all night long.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Hailing from Fort Lauderdale Florida, Bushwood is an up-and-coming band that mixes traditional reggae vibes with their own funk and rock style. Guitarist and vocalist Steve Voronkov, bassist and vocalist Adam Moskowitz, and drummer Jon Cross released their self-titled debut album, Bushwood, back in April of 2011. This album displays the band’s originality, blending reggae, funk, and rock into one cohesive style.
The album kicks off with “Red and White,” which sets the tone for the rest of the album. Right off the bat, you are hit with an energetic drum beat and hot guitar licks that don’t ever let up. Next comes a reggae song with a great build-up into an amazing solo, “By the Water.” This love song about wanting to be with a girl down by the water also has a very laid back and summer vibe to it. Another song off of Bushwood that without a doubt captures the carefree mood of summer is “Drop the Anchor.” The presence of an acoustic guitar is calming, the chorus about the beach and friends is very catchy, and of course some amazing guitar solos makes this one of the best songs on the album.
Another high point on Bushwood’s debut album is “In Control.” This song starts off with some funky guitar chords, calms down into a very simple, yet catchy reggae tune, and finishes by matching the energy of the beginning of the song. In addition, the snare drum is brought in perfectly in time with a beautiful guitar solo which will get your head bouncing. Bushwood then calms down a bit and shows how reggae can express a wide range of emotions and feelings with their song “Ramblin’ Soul.” The emotion-filled vocals, soothing guitar riffs, and arrangement of the song create a very calm and somber mood.
After showing off their emotional side, Bushwood kicks the energy back up and close out the album with their lighthearted funky reggae instrumental “Flomanja,” which captures every style that they play. It starts off with a bouncy reggae beat that merges into funk flawlessly, slows down with some groovin’ reggae chords, and finishes off with rock n‘ roll solos and drums.With reggae, rock, and funk so seamlessly intertwined, Bushwood’s debut album leaves high expectations for the future. It shows that each member of the band is full of talent and it presents a niche sound for these Fort Lauderdale boys. Having already written some very catchy tunes, I look forward to watching Bushwood’s bright future unfold.
Monday, January 9, 2012
After almost two and a half years without releasing any new music, Rebelution went all in for their third studio album, Peace of Mind, which includes full-length single, acoustic, and dub albums. Showing lots of maturity and growth, the Santa Barbara natives gave a fitting description of this masterpiece, stating that “the triple-album is definitely a progression musically and genre wise from our past albums, while still grounded in reggae.”
Peace of Mind kicks off with the band’s first single “Sky is the Limit,” featuring an energetic horn section and a classic Rebelution vibe. This style of rock/reggae, established in their sophomore album Bright Side of Life, is also apparent in “Comfort Zone” and “Day by Day.” In addition, the band remains in touch with their roots as the song “Calling Me Out,” with a catchy saxophone riff and groovin’ reggae beat, sounds like it’s from the Courage to Grow era. But most importantly, these California boys grew and recorded songs that feel like a brand new Rebelution. “Route Around” and “Closer I Get” are two passionate love songs that experiment with a new, toned-down genre and really stand out from anything else the band has recorded. These songs are contrasted by “Lady in White,” which is full of distorted rock guitars and crashing symbols that show an unfamiliar but exciting side of the band.
Rebelution also included four guest artists to add something new to their songs. Lutan Fyah’s traditional reggae style makes the vibe in “Good Vibes” even better and Jacob Hemphill of SOJA compliments lead singer Eric Rachmany’s voice beautifully in “Meant to Be”. Unlikely subject for a reggae band, harmonica player John Popper has a remarkable solo that fits the mood of “Closer I Get” perfectly and rapper Zumbi of Zion I adds a hip-hop element to “So High.”
Finally, the acoustic and dub albums offer different versions of their 12 outstanding songs. With new arrangements in the acoustic album and lots of unique effects in the dub album, the band created three versions of these songs that all differ enough to make each one entertaining and something new.
Rebelution’s third studio album proves why the band is on top of reggae and even multi-genre charts. Peace of Mind not only has the classic California reggae vibe that Rebelution has mastered over the years, but also shows maturity and reveals a new, exceptional sound that can be appreciated by more than just reggae fans.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
The lights dimmed and cheers of “R.B.F.!” filled The Catalyst in Santa Cruz California. The Reel Big Fish took the stage and got the night started with their classic from the 90’s, “Everything Sucks.” The crowd needed no encouragement to start dancing as this upbeat song could get even the most gloomy person up on their feet. The Orange County California natives kept things going with some fast passed ska songs such as “Trendy” and “Join the Club” before calming it down with “Slow Down.” “It looked like you guys needed a break,” said lead singer and guitarist Aaron Barrett after finishing the song. “Slow Down” provided a much-needed rest as the band kicked the energy right back up with a crowd favorite, “She Has a Girlfriend Now.”
During the ska instrumental “241,” three of the Reel Big Fish got to toot their own horns. Trombonist Dan Regan, trumpet player John Christianson, and saxophonist Matt Appleton delighted the crowd with their skillful solos. These three gentlemen kept the mood lighthearted throughout the evening with their catchy riffs in songs like “Snoop Dog Baby” and “Say Ten.”
Apart from the great music, the Reel Big Fish kept the crowd entertained with their juvenile humor. Before playing “She Has a Girlfriend Now,” Barrett told that crowd that “this song is for the girls, women, ladies, and females,” and that “if you fall into one of these four categories, this song is just for you.” The group’s never ending supply of energy also kept the audience captivated. On many occasions, the entire band would take a step back from the microphones and jump in unison. Barrett would spin around while strumming chords and even played solos with his guitar behind his back. And when Regan, Christianson, and Appleton weren’t busy singing or playing, they would bounce around the small Catalyst stage and even jump onto Ryland Steen’s kick drum.
Towards the end of their set, the Reel Big Fish took their performance to the next level with their song “S.R.”. Barrett strummed some chords in a reggae style, the entire band started jumping on the off-beat, and everyone in the Catalyst followed along. Mimicking the band’s actions not only connected the fans to the musicians, but also made them a part of the performance. Next, they went on to play the song in many different genres. Before starting each new version, Barrett would tell the crowd what they should do for the new style. Fans diligently obeyed as they formed a big mosh pit, square danced, and head banged to punk, country, and death metal renditions. Not only did the band find a clever way to introduce each new version, but they also demonstrated their wide range of talent as musicians.The night finished up with their big hit, “Sell Out,” and a cover of “Take on Me” from 80’s pop band, A-ha. The Reel Big Fish put on a great show full of bouncy horn riffs, never ending energy on stage, and all around great music. The crowd interaction and comical personality of the band made the concert unforgettable. With amazing music and an outstanding performance, the Reel Big Fish are a band that makes live music exciting.
The crowd was pumped up and ready to go. Before the New Jersey septet took the stage, cheers of “Streetlight! Streetlight!” rang throughout the crowd and people were shoving each other around in preparation for what would become an hour and a half dance/mosh pit. Streetlight Manifesto was greeted by nearly 1,000 thrilled fans and started the night with the energy filled “Watch it Crash.” The crowd surged forwards, backwards, left and right, jumping and dancing to Streetlight Manifesto’s lively music. The crowd was nothing short of energetic. Mosh pits and crowd surges showed no signs of stopping as long as Streetlight Manifesto was in the spotlight.
After their second song, “Failing, Flailing,” guitarist and lead singer Tomas Kalnoky drenched his fans by tossing out opened water bottles. Because of the welcoming response the band received from the sweaty crowd, this act quickly became routine. Streetlight Manifesto really connected with their fans when they let the roaring crowd take over lead vocals. During the intro of “1234, 1234,” Kalnoky strummed the guitar chords as the crowd belted the familiar “whoa’s!” During songs such as “Dear Sergio” the crowd actually overpowered Kalnoky. It was obvious that the band enjoyed this, and seeing them smile on stage made the show that much more enjoyable.
Other than a wild crowd and interaction with the fans, Streetlight Manifesto pleased the crowd with their crisp ska style. With drumbeats and guitar chords that are played at lightning fast speeds, the band displayed their talent by not missing a single note. In addition, Streetlight Manifesto is great at mixing two unlikely styles, punk rock guitar and a unique horn section. For example, while playing “What a Wicked Gang Are We,” the distorted guitar unexpectedly complimented the baritone sax, tenor sax, trombone, and trumpet very well. Each musician in this extensive horn section was also given a solo during songs like “We Will Fall Together” and “Somewhere in the Between.” Streetlight Manifesto demonstrated their musicianship as their live music sounded identical to, if not better than their albums.
The night ended with the fast paced “1234, 1234,” giving the crowd one last ska beat to get all their remaining energy out (if there was any left at all). As the band left the stage, cheers of an encore were inevitable, but unfortunately unsuccessful. These New Jersey boys had put on an amazing show and left Santa Cruz wanting more.
It’s hard to imagine that anyone who has had the opportunity to see Streetlight Manifesto would not consider themselves a fan. Through interacting with the crowd and demonstrating their raw talent as musicians, Streetlight Manifesto puts on a very exciting live show and gives off a good vibe. But just a fair warning if you do decide to see them live, be ready for a crowd that will match the energy of Streetlight Manifesto’s music.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Let me start off by saying that I have not known Slightly Stoopid very long and unfortunately had not heard all of the songs they played in Berkeley. With that being said, Slightly Stoopid is one of the best bands I have ever seen live. Their music ranges from reggae to punk to blues to hip-hop and the band knows how to get the crowd involved and change up the songs to make them really something special.
The San Diego natives took the stage at the Greek Theater and started the night with an instrumental song that highlighted all the genres we would hear for the next couple of hours. The band mixed blues, punk, and reggae into the first four minutes of the concert. Slightly Stoopid really got the party started during the next song, “Officer”, as they let the crowd sing out the chorus, “Let’s get this party started, until the break of dawn.” And boy did the party get started. Punk track, “Ain’t No Reason to Go” followed, and the mosh pits opened up. This song was one of the first times we got to see the bands raw talent. As drummer Ryan Moran was banging perfectly in time on the drums, and bassist Kyle McDonald slid up and down the bass, guitarist Miles Doughty was shredding on the guitar.
As if we hadn’t seen enough different genres in the first 15 minutes, Slightly Stoopid brought a new one into the show, ska. With a bouncy beat and some catchy trumpets and saxophones from C-Money, DeLa, and the special guest Karl Denson, the band changed the moshing crowd to a dancing one within a matter of seconds.
Soon after, something happened that I had never seen before. McDonald and Doughty switched instruments. They both played an equal amount of guitar and bass throughout the night, and they were both great no matter what instrument they were playing. They would normally switch around every five songs, but I caught them once switching instruments in the middle of a song. This was one of the many occasions that night that demonstrated this bands unbelievable talent.
Slightly Stoopid then played some of my favorite songs, “2AM” and “Closer to the Sun.” These songs are great on the album, but what made the night at the Greek Theater so incredible was Slightly Stoopid’s ability to make their songs something different when played live. During many of their songs, they would give their trumpets and saxophones time to solo, walk out to the edge of the stage and slap hands with fans while singing, and bring out special guests. Reggae legend Don Carlos and rapper Shwayze, made many appearances during the show and really added a lot of energy to the night.
After an hour and a half of music, Slightly Stoopid left the stage. The crowd went crazy and demanded more. After waiting patiently for what seemed like an eternity, trumpet player C-Money took the stage by himself. He played a few well-known notes that ended with the entire crowd yelling, “Charge.” The band started the encore with one of their calmer songs, “Open Road.” Then came my favorite song of the night, “Wiseman.” The band broke it down half way through and covered Bob Marley’s “Roots Rock Reggae,” and brought out Don Carlos to sing a verse all in the same song.
At the end of the night, it was hard to not be happy with Slightly Stoopid’s set. Even though I was not familiar with all of their songs, I still had a great time. The wide range of music, a crowd full of energy, and these San Diego boys’ ability to entertain made this concert unforgettable.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Fifteen years after the death of lead singer and guitarist, Bradley Nowell, Sublime’s legacy will start a new chapter. Remaining members of the band, Bud Guagh and Eric Wilson have teamed up with singer and guitarist Rome Ramirez to start Sublime with Rome. After touring extensively during 2009 and 2010, the band has released their first album together, Yours Truly.
As a whole, I was pleasantly surprised with Sublime with Rome’s first project. Although some of the reggae sounds more pop like and generic than Sublime did, there are some very high points on this album.
Yours Truly starts off with a bang. “Panic” is a classic example of what I love about the original Sublime. The song starts off very fast, mixing both clean and distorted guitar tones, but then in the middle, it slows down and becomes a catchy, sing-along reggae tune. The arrangement of the song reminds me very much of “Seed”, by Sublime. Another highlight of the album is “Murdera.” This reggae song proves that Guagh and Wilson still got it as they keep the great beats going. In addition, the DJ scratching fills add a hip-hop element to the song. The very next song, “My World” is one of my favorites on the album. Ramirez’s vocals in this song gives me hope that he may be able to bring some of the energy that Nowell did to the live show. If not this song, then “Paper Cuts” will be able to get the crowd going. This punk song has a very catchy chorus and it really shows you all sides of Ramirez’s great voice. Later on in the album, Ramirez breaks out the acoustic guitar for songs like “PCH”, “Same Old Situation”, and “Spun”. While they do have a different feel than Sublime, these are all great songs and are sure to become summer classics. Next comes one of my favorite songs off of Yours Truly, “You Better Listen.” With some amazing guitar riffs and solos, the drums, bass, and guitar working perfectly together during the verse, and the female back-up singers in the chorus, this song seems to have it all. Yours Truly finishes off with “Can You Feel It” featuring rapper, Wiz Khalifa. It wasn’t my favorite song on the album, but Wiz Khalifa did add something different to the album.
The only thing I feel the debut album of Sublime with Rome is missing is a dub song. Sublime had made some great dub tracks and it would have been great to see Sublime with Rome carry on that tradition. But all in all, Yours Truly is a very strong album. Ramirez is a very talented musician, and Guagh and Wilson proved that they haven’t lost a single thing since they started Sublime back in 1988. Without Nowell, it’s definitely not the Sublime we are used to, but as Ramirez stated, “It will sound like Sublime, but for a new generation.”
Monday, May 30, 2011
California Roots Reggae Festival
May 28, 2011
Monterey California, Monterey County Fairgrounds
It was a cold, rainy night in Monterey CA, but Iration still brought the heat. These Hawaiian natives had a lot to prove as headliners of day one of the 2nd annual California Roots Festival. Playing after big names such as Tomorrows Bad Seeds, Ooklah the Moc, and Tribal Seeds, I was worried they wouldn't prove to be worthy as headliners.Iration started their set with dub. Not only was it great to see the band jamming together, but it also built up anticipation towards what the first song of the night would be. So when lead guitarist Micah Pueschel started playing the main riff of “Wait and See”, the crowd was just as excited as they were when Iration first took the stage.
After playing the classics “Turn Around” and “Get Back to Me” from their “Time Bomb” album and the very appropriately titled “Summer Nights”, Iration really got things started. They brought up their buddy, Geoff Weers from The Expendables, to cover the song “Ganga Smuggling” by Eek a Mouse. Weers performed nothing shy of amazing, as he sang and danced on stage. He not only got the entire crowd cheering for him, but also all of Iration. They were able to take a break from the spotlight and just enjoy the moment.
Iration kept the energy level up as they played the fast paced “I'm With You” and their new song “Undertow.” But then they brought it back down with the song “All in You.” For this song, they brought up The Expendables lead guitarist, Raul Bianchi. Once again, Iration's use of other musicians made their performance much more enjoyable. Their songs weren't identical to the album, they brought something new and exciting to their live performance.
Now, it was time to get down to the meat of the show. Iration ended the night with arguably their three biggest hits; “Falling”, “Cookie Jar”, and “Time Bomb.” The band got us involved and had us sing lines from all three of these songs. As they strummed the last chord and crashed the final cymbal of “Time Bomb”, I was satisfied with what Iration had done, it was just about what I had expected. But the house music and lights didn't come on, and the crowd got louder and louder.
For the encore Pueschel took the stage by himself and played the acoustic hit from their new EP, “No Letter.” He didn't miss a note and sounded great by himself, but after he had finished with his time in the spotlight, the rest of Iration joined him on stage. I remember thinking about what else they could play, they had already done their biggest hits. So with none of their music left to play, they rocked one of my favorite songs by UB40, “The Way You Do the Things You Do.” The encore they played that night moved the show from the “B” category to the “A” category. Iration proved that they were without a doubt, a great headlining act.