I was captivated by the stage as soon as I walked into The Turf Club on Tuesday night. There wasn’t even anyone on it yet but it was beyond full of gear. Two full drum kits, multiple keyboards, amps– everything and it crowded the entire stage. It looked like we were in for a full night of dozens of bands when, in actuality, it was just a three-band show. I honestly don’t know why it had me so stuck but it also had me super excited for the delightful assault that it was going to bring to my ears.
Brooklyn reggae group SunDub took the stage promptly at 8:30 PM for their thirty-minute set. SunDub has a very soulful reggae sound with an infectious groove. Vocalist Joanna Teters had a super strong Brooklyn accent but it worked perfectly in the setting and was one of the many things that set this band apart from other groups in the genre. Another thing that set them apart was the lyrics. This is a super conscious band and their ideals were clearly in line with mine. Proof of this was when they played a song that quoted the almighty Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Although it wasn’t the core of their set, a message of positivity and inclusivity reigned supreme throughout their quick set. Well, that and their very chill and well-polished reggae sound.
Joanna mentioned something that really stuck with me throughout the show. She explained that the band plays music for the spirits. She went on to explain that the vibrations throughout their songs were for those who we have all lost because, although they may not be with us in spirit, they can still feel the vibrations we make. The vibrations were real and heavy throughout the night and this was a thought that kept coming into my head after she said it. It’s a simple explanation of music but hit so deep and beautifully.
That vibration, as I mentioned, was alive and strong as Artikal Sound System took the stage. Really, that would be an understatement. The bass throughout Artikal Sound System’s set was truly deafening and, at times, a bit too loud for my old ears but the rest of the sold-out audience was eating it up. Hailing from Florida, this band brought a much more classic reggae dub sound with a poppy twist. Even though I feel like their music just didn’t hit me like that of SunDub, their set was beyond enjoyable. People in the packed audience seemed to be warming up as Artikal Sound System played their set and you could see them starting to move and groove to the powerful beats a bit more than they had with the opening band.
With nods to everything from R&B to skate punk, I felt comfortable as they played through their set even though Tuesday night’s show was admittingly a bit out of my normal wheelhouse. I only say that because I’m not a regular at reggae shows. They are shows that I always enjoy but I just don’t have the same crew of friends or familiar faces at these shows to lean on as I do other genres. That being said, I have never been to a show like this and felt out of place and Tuesday night at the sold-out Turf Club in Saint Paul was no different. Although I didn’t make any new friends or anything like that, I felt welcomed into the scene in a gorgeous way with the way people were so nice when shifting throughout the crowd or getting a drink at the bar.
I became even more comfortable as headliners Iya Terra played through their set. Although another standard reggae group (I don’t mean that in a bad way at all!), Iya Terra played some familiar riffs and songs including a cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” and even that one riff from that one CKY song that everyone knows but can never name. Hearing those familiar sounds helped me get even more comfortable in the space and led to a super stellar final set for my Tuesday night.
You can hear sunny California in Iya Terra’s music in a perfect way and, for a show that would let out into a fresh burst of snow, that was just what all of us Minnesotans needed. It was as if you could feel the sun on your face and the saltwater in your hair as they played through their set. I feel like I should expand on that more for those of you that don’t listen to this kind of music but I also feel like you just have to hear it to understand so feel free to spend some time digging into any of Iya Terra’s six albums that they have put out over the years.
Iya Terra is a hard-working band and that came through during their set. From the flawless nature of their sound to the way they interacted with each other and the audience– you could just tell that this band has worked hard to get to where they are. The entire audience seemed truly hypnotized by this band in a super cool way. Everyone was moving around to the loud beat in whatever way they felt was appropriate or whatever way the beat made them move and I loved seeing and hearing that Although the music from their set was great, I was more enamored by their professionalism on stage and the way they were able to balance that with having fun.
Yeah, I was a little out of my element when it came to the show on Tuesday night but I felt at home and that was due to the amazing music and amazing people surrounding me. Get out there and check out a show that isn’t quite in your wheelhouse. It’s amazing the things you see and experience when you step out of your box ever so slightly.