Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reel Big Fish Show Review

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.

Streetlight Manifesto Show Review

           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

Slightly Stoopid Show Review

             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

Sublime with Rome: Yours Truly Review

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.”  

Slightly Stoopid

Can't wait to see Slightly Stoopid perform at the Greek Theater in Berkeley on July 29th.  Check back in a couple of weeks and I'll have a review of Slightly Stoopid's performance on their Seedless Summer tour!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Concert Review: Iration

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.

California Roots Festival 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Hi everyone, this is Nate.

I created this blog so I can share some of my favorite reggae and rock bands with you and so you can share some of your favorites with me and everyone else.  This blog will be made up of reviews of albums and live shows, photos, suggestions on new bands, and more.

I will be checking out the 2nd Annual California Roots Festival in Monterey this weekend, May 28-29.  I plan on reviewing sets from Iration, Clear Conscience, and more.  (If you know of any other bands there that I should check out, please let me know.)  As soon as I get them finished, I'll have them up so you take a look.