The Wailers Continue To Captivate Crowds Years Later


It was a little bit eerie in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday. There was no hustle and bustle like there usually is due to some epic storms that had swept through the area and with the warning of more to come but nothing was going to stop me from seeing The Wailers. They have been on my list for years but I have just never had the chance to catch them live, until now.

Kicking off the Thursday night show at the legendary First Avenue in Minneapolis was local favorites The Big Wu. This is a band that, although not my scene, I thoroughly enjoy every time I hear their music. Their perfect blend of reggae, country, rock, and jam band, this group has more heart and passion than I can even attempt to put into words. That heart and passion came through loud and clear throughout their opening set that lasted over an hour. Even if you’re not into songs that last twenty minutes or a more subtle kind of energy coming out of speakers, there’s something truly infectious and addicting about seeing this band live.
Much like the headliner of the night, The Big Wu has an enormous amount of staying power. They have been around since 1992 and although they have had their share of line-up changes, one thing never changes, their connection with their devoted fans. The crowd was a bit slow getting into the main room last night but everyone who was in there for the opener was having a great time. Whether they were singing along to the beautiful harmonies drifting through the speakers or just lightly nodding their heads as if in agreement with every note placement, there was a sense of family that could be felt radiating throughout the air.

Headlining the Thursday night show was the one and only The Wailers. As soon as I told my mom that was who I was going to see, she claimed she didn’t know who they were until I said those magic words- Bob Marley. I’ll never see Bob Marley live. That breaks my heart. He seemed like he would have put on a hell of a show that even a metalhead like myself could fall in love with. His energy and positivity is one that many people envy including myself and, what with the current state of the world, I feel like we all need that positivity. Sure, I can’t see Marley live but I can see The Wailers and that’s the next best thing.

The Wailers’ set on Thursday night was chock-full of Marley standards along with a few newer tracks that, although I had never heard before, felt familiar and comforting. The group is led by Aston Barrett Jr.  (son the original Wailers bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett), there’s something so timeless about their performance that it’s not hard to imagine Bob Marley on stage with this band. Obviously, this was easier to picture on the classic tracks they played but even on the newer tracks hailing from The Wailers’ new album ‘One World’, there’s a clear influence of the one and only Marley and the tracks have an energy that I’m sure he would be more than proud of. One thing that persisted throughout every song was the amount of passion and heart that all of the band members had when performing. The band members were clearly having fun as they smiled and danced their way through the set in tandem with the excited yet laid-back audience. 

The Wailers’ set seemed to last forever on Thursday night because I felt like I heard every song I had ever wanted to hear from this band but even that wasn’t enough. From the familiar tunes taking over my soul to the truly positive and loving vibes that had taken over my heart, I never wanted it to end.  I feel like I had dreamt of the day that I would get to catch this monumental act live and, even though I know for sure that I was there on Thursday and saw it all, it’s still a bit hard to believe. It was everything I could have asked for and then some.