Sometimes you need a healthy dose of some feel-good reggae to ease your worldly troubles. 🙂
I know that’s what I needed this past Friday. My life has been a bit of a rough ride since I got back from Bear Creek Music Festival a few weeks ago because I caught a lame ass cold, and it’s been persisting ever since (but still totally worth it). It seemed like I was finally getting over it though so I was eager to celebrate by finally going out to a show again.
Easy Star All-Stars was just the right kind of chill, healing vibe for my first show back in Orlando too, and they happened to be playing at my favorite local venue, the Social. Perfect.
To preface: these All-Stars stand above most other reggae artists in my world because they helped me expand my taste in reggae a few years ago. Believe it or not, there was a time when I thought reggae music was pretty much just anything by Bob Marley. What other reggae could I possibly need anyway, right?
Wow, so terribly wrong. I can’t believe I never bothered to look into anything else back then. Luckily, this ignorance only lasted a short time before someone came along and all but slapped me upside the head.
A good friend introduced me to the music of Easy Star All-Stars some years ago and totally blew my mind. I didn’t actually get slapped, but hearing all that awesomeness for the first time was almost like getting slapped.
What?! They play reggae covers of songs by Pink Floyd, Radiohead, and the Beatles?! How did I not already know about this..? Radiohead is pretty much my favorite band of all time so hearing this kind of stuff was instant love!
I’ve seen a couple of their festival sets at this point, but I was excited to finally see them indoors. Compared to a large, outdoor festival set, a small, indoor set usually feels a lot more intimate and palpable. I love actually seeing what’s happening on stage as it’s happening rather than squinting from afar and trying to imagine. For me, it usually makes a performance feel more inviting as a co-creative, energy-exchanging experience. The bass tends to feel warmer and thicker too, which is great for a dub reggae type of band.
Anyway, I actually arrived at the Social in time to catch the opener, BALLYHOO! I didn’t look up anything about this band beforehand because I like surprises. I figured it would be some other dub or reggae type of band to carry a similar vibe into Easy Star’s set, but what I experienced was unexpected and refreshing.
BALLYHOO! was a burst of fun, youthful energy with their reggae-rockin’ pop-punkin’ grooves. There was a nostalgic feel to their set for me since their stage presence and sound conjured thoughts of bands I used to listen to in high school, like Blink182 and 311. Those were some good times so it brought back some old, relished memories. I don’t know if anyone else carried similar sentiments, but everyone around me was totally rocking out and enjoying the moment. The music kind of felt like a pool party and I was more than happy to cannonball right into the middle at full force. Here’s a shitty pic:
I took some video at the show with my phone, but the sound quality is awful so I’ll spare you. Here’s an idea of what BALLYHOO! sounds like though. 🙂
Good news: I had a wonderful beer buzz by the time Easy Star All-Stars started their set. I was so immersed in the moment that I could barely keep track of the setlist as it seamlessly spilled out, but I know for sure that they played almost all of the Radiohead and Pink Floyd songs I really wanted to hear. And since I was only about five feet away from them most of the time, I felt a profound connection with the creation process as it unfolded before me.
It’s funny how there are certain shows where you can take a look around and spot a bunch of other “heads” on your level. There’s a kind of synchronized movement that begins to happen sometimes with a group of people as things naturally ease into a collective effort. It kind of makes me think of a bee hive having a party. I’m pretty sure we were all getting down on some good, booze-buzzin’ bees knees up in that smokin’ joint. I was kind of feeling like a jolly globbin’ amoeba about halfway through, which was an excellent launching point for the beginnings of an excellent weekend. 😉
Here’s an idea of what a live Easy Star All-Stars show sounds like in case you haven’t heard them yet:
To be real though, the video doesn’t capture how incredible it is to see them live, especially up close and personal. The highlights of my night were hearing them play “Money,” by Pink Floyd and “Karma Police,” by Radiohead. They certainly served up many other polished gems from their golden catalogues, but those songs really did it for me. That was some much-needed medicine.
Easy Star All Stars Live Review by Sean Dorsett.
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