Although I would never call myself a huge reggae fan or claim to know much about the scene, I will never turn down the chance to see a reggae concert live. There’s just something about them that makes my heart so full and that’s exactly what I needed for my Tuesday night this week. The fact that one of the bands playing is legitimately one of my favorite bands to see in concert was just the icing on the cake.
The crowd wasn’t huge as the opening act Kash’d out took the stage but that didn’t stop them from giving one hell of a performance. Hailing from Florida, Kash’d Out has a sound that blends rock and reggae in a perfect way. Their cover of Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy” was the perfect way to put this blend on display and was a perfect way to help those unfamiliar with Kash’d Out warm up to them. Although Kash’d Out’s set seemed to fly by, the energy throughout it was perfect. It wasn’t too much but it also wasn’t too laid back and I feel like it was just what everyone in the audience needed to get that much-needed second wind on their Tuesday night.
The first time I saw Tropidelics was back in January of 2018 when they opened up for Flobots at The Turf Club. I was at that show solely to see Flobots but Tropoidelic ended up stealing that show and I fell head over heels for the band. Fast forward a couple of years and I have now had the absolute honor of catching Tropidelic live a few times and, like a fine wine, they just keep getting better with age. Much like Kash’d Out’s music, Tropidelic has a blend of genres that is both perfect and unique. Taking the blend of rock and reggae that Kash’d Out had but adding a bit more of a ska and hip-hop vibe (along with funk, boyband-pop, indie, the list just goes on and on), Tropidelic’s sound instantly had the entire audience moving with my friends and I included. Their music is feel-good music. It makes you smile even if you had a crap day at work and found out that your car needs new breaks and I think that’s something that we all need as the world seems to get more and more confusing to navigate.
Beyond Tropidelic’s music is their energy. I feel like this is something I say about this band every time I write about them but their energy is truly next to impossible to put into words. It’s something that you just have to see live and experience for yourself. From their synchronized dance moves to the infectious smiles on all of the member’s faces, you can’t be frowning when watching them perform. Personally, it’s the dance moves that get me. From the horn players doing synchronized almost hop-scotch-like movements to the way some of the members just have this way of vibing out and their bodies acting a bit like a wave, there’s just so much movement and energy– it’s impossible to catch it all but that also makes it so perfect. The piece de resistance of Tropidelic’s set was when the members left the stage abruptly only to return with marching band drums and a sousaphone (you know, those giant tuba things) closing out the set with a true party. Again, I know I’m rambling here but I really just need you to go see this band live. I promise all of my ramblings will make sense and you too will fall in love with this amazing band.
Closing out the Tuesday night show at First Avenue was Iration. Even though I’m not super deep in the reggae scene or anything, Iration is a familiar name and I was excited to see what this California-based group was going to give the audience. Kicking their set off with “Lost and Found” and then powering through a sixteen-song set followed up by a two-song encore, this band had an uncanny way of relaxing me. Although their music is definitely more of a straight-up reggae sound when compared to Tropidelic, there were still elements of many other genres scattered throughout their set that made every song feel fresh. Their music absolutely transports you from wherever you are and puts you in the driver’s seat of a convertible while driving along the coast of sunny California.
Although I didn’t know much about this headlining act other than the fact I had heard their name before, their covers of “Cool Me Down” by The Black Seeds and “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes helped me cozy up to the idea of this band. Again, like Kash’d Out covering Lit, I feel like the perfect curation of these two songs really helped get people into this band who, maybe like me, would never call themselves a huge reggae fan. That being said, if I’m being quite honest, although Iration sounded great and it truly was a treat to catch them live, they just couldn’t match the energy that Tropidelic had brought to the stage. Don’t get me wrong, Iration absolutely had a sense of energy on that stage that radiated into the audience in a perfect way but it was just an almost more buttoned-up energy when compared to that of Tropidelic.
Clearly, I have my favorite from the show but I want to stress that absolutely everyone on this ‘Zen Island Tour’ killed it and I truly feel like I spent my Tuesday night on a zen island which is just what I needed!