July 23, 2015:
The vibes at Venue Nightclub were vivacious all night long. The collected crowd seemed to agree on one thing whole-heartedly: they were there to skank-down to good tunes and keep up the high vibes.
Mostly Marley kicked off the evening; a five-piece cover band, who, as their name insinuates, performs mostly Bob Marley songs. They did him justice; Bob must have been groovin’ in the grave. Mostly Marley did not stray far from the traditional versions of the songs they covered. They were pleasingly predictable, energized and SKA-average. The lead singer did a playful call-and-response, as vocal warm-ups for sing-alongs to come. A wonderful way to tease up to Easy Star All-Stars, and shake awake the old dancing feet.
By the time Easy Star All-Stars graced the stage, the room was sweaty, smoky, and filling up, soon to be packed. Their first banger was Billie Jean, Michael Jackson’s irresistible song. Can anyone stop themselves from singing along to that song? If you’re not singing then you’re dancing. Next they played Thriller, and if you weren’t singing or dancing, now you certainly must be. Easy Star All-Stars did not ease us into their set; they tossed us into the deep end, then slowly dragged us back up from the funkiest depths. Mixing their originals in with covers, sliding from Radiohead to Pink Floyd seamlessly, their music danced us through the night.
Easy Star All-Stars is more than just a cover band. They’ve taken songs that seem too perfect to touch, and added a twist, making them seem like they’ve always been SKA/reggae songs. Reggae Radiohead? Really? Sure. Radiodread. Bold. That could be so awful,it could have gone so wrong, but because they are a stage full of talent, they pull it off. They kill it. Props to them. Easy Star All-Stars knows how to host a dance party, that’s for certain.
The band filled up the stage corner to corner with eight, maybe nine, alternating members: bass, keys, vocals, guitar, drums, sax, etc. etc. Someone would vanish in to the smoke, reappear as a new member. It was actually challenging to get a head-count. And hot damn! For having eight, maybe nine, individuals strumming at their own toys, they somehow all played together, tight and sharp. Organized chaos. Everyone knows their part and plays it out full and well.
There were four different vocalists who would either swap out with each other or share songs in harmony. Sometimes, mister frog-s0-low vocals (aka Ruff Scott) didn’t match up with sassy-lady’s high pitches, but that is to be expected. Sassy-lady-vocalist (aka Kirsty Rock) was at her best when singing on her own, backed up by six swooning musicians. To be in this band, you need to be a multi-talented musician. Just slaying the guitar isn’t enough; you also need to sing like Michael Jackson, Syd Barrett and Thom Yorke and skank like a Rasta, even if you’re white.
In all: it was an irresistible night of dancing to an energized performance of craftily re-sculpted songs. If you asked me to go again tomorrow, I certainly would.
Easy Star All-Stars is on tour for the rest of the month. Catch them if you can, in California, Nevada or Texas.
Until next time,