I had the privilege of going to see Rebelution perform last night at their album release show/party at The Roxy. Prior to their taking the stage, another great young reggae group - Iration performed. Although they were great, they were certainly overshadowed by the headliner. The reggae-soul quartet from Santa Barbara were on fire - opening with my favorite song of theirs "Safe and Sound" - and not letting up until the curtain dropped on screaming co-eds and intoxicated fans.
Playing tracks from the same-day release Bright Side of Life - which reached #3 on i-tunes yesterday - and their first release, Courage To Grow, the band had the crowd hooked. Marley D Williams (the bassist) and Eric Rachmany (guitarist, lead vocals) kept the crowd engaged with their animated stage presence and constant crowd walk-ups. Marley had the bassist rock star appeal down - he marched around stage barefoot, sporting his Rebelution-esque tree tattoo on his calf, and making the young women coo. Eric kept the crowd hot with his boyish good looks and charm, not to mention his stellar vocals.
With video cameras surrounding the stage (and signs posted for all to know that they'd consented to being videotaped), The Roxy had all the staples of a really special night - sold out room, screaming women (see pictures), serious press coverage and a crowd steaming for their own Rebelution.
The band played for nearly two hours and never slowed down - weaving seamlessly from one song to the next, with nearly no downtime and certainly no drop-off in the energy level. From general admission to the VIP section, people sang along and kept their dub-step fresh. When the band finally announced that they were playing their last song and then stepped away from the stage - the crowd was chanting "Rebelution" before the last member had stepped off. They were relentless - these guys couldn't have left without playing an encore if their life depended on it.
As if the show itself wasn't already good enough - Rebelution not only had a stellar performance...but they looked fresh too. The bands album release tour became officially sponsored by Grassroots California, a Los Angeles based apparel company specializing in hats, and the band members rocked the gear through out different points of the night.
The drummer, Wesley Finley, sported a Grassroots California t-shirt during the performance, the manager rocked Grassroots California's signature fitted green California bear hat the entire night, and Eric threw on a Grassroots California t-shirt for the after party (see pic to the right). Marley, the bassist, rocked the hat the second he got off stage (I gave the bassist, Marley, my signature hat because he wanted it!- see pic below of Marley, Grassroots California's Jane Henry and myself). SUPERGOODMUSIC played an instrumental role in brokering the exchange between Grassroots California and Rebelution - so I was happy to see the band rocking the gear and the crowd inquiring as to where to get the goods.
Grassroots California apparel can be obtained at participating cannabis clubs in Venice, West L.A. and West Hollywood. Their website, www.grassrootscalifornia.com, is scheduled to launch with a batch of new hat designs in late August 2009. A portion of each sale (a minimum of 5%) is donated back to a charity or cause that Grassroots California believes is worthy of support.
I've been to reggae shows before, and reggae shows by some famous rasta men (Steel Pulse, Buju Banton) and Rebelution is a force to be reckoned with for years to come. With strong influences from Steel Pulse (check their keys and steel drums on their recordings), the band has found a sound that is uniquely their own yet strangely familiar.
Don't miss them next time - I know I won't!