Artists: Rebelution, Katchafire 1-17-2015
Location: Austin, TX @ The Austin Music Hall
After playing nothing but outdoor venues and festivals in Austin for over 4 years, Rebelution brought their inspired performance back inside to the Austin Music Hall. Complete with stage props, state-of-the-art lighting, a repertoire of songs the whole crowd can sing along to, and New Zealand-based roots rockers Katchafire. The Winter Greens 2015 tour couldn’t have picked a better weekend to stop by, as spring-like weather was witnessed, providing relief and some much needed vitamin D.
What a better way to welcome in sunshine the capping off your Saturday night at a Rebelution show? The venue, which lies in the heart of downtown Austin was efficient and professional in getting fans in and not causing any unneeded drama like kicking fans out for smoking. The whole crowd was there to have a good time, and that’s exactly what ensued. As the drinks began flowing, a DJ began making bodies move with an excellent mixup of reggae from all walks of life.
Katchafire soon took the stage and instantly captivated a tightly packed crowd. The sound was top notch as every nuance of instrumentation was well captured. The back and forth between vocalists keep the crowd on their toes and the auxiliary percussions helped round off the fullness in the sound. The depth the band brings adds a timeless twist to modern reggae combining raw musicianship and slow skanks while occasionally adding a rough rocky edge. The band can touted as bringing diversity and originality to an increasingly repetitious scene.
With a range of tempos, vocal stylings, keys, and instrumentation, Katchafire flexed their knowledge of international influences in a refreshing way. It was a blessing to be able to see a full Katchafire set in the United States. Highlights of their set included the high energy summoned by “Down with You” as well as the melodic bass riffs from songs like “Seriously”. The band also took full advantage of knowing their target audience by bringing out a giant joint, lighting it on stage, and then passing it down for the crowd to share among themselves, allowing for further enjoyment of the good vibes.
After another brief spin session from our guest DJ, Rebelution took the stage to a boom of applause and cheers. The band internalized the high energy of the crowd through flawless live renditions of songs like “Safe and Sound”, “De-Stress”, and “Roots Reggae Music” to get the ball rolling. The improvements to the accompanying stage lights for this tour were evident as a full spectrum of energy was presented to compliment the music being played. The strobe lighting effect to “Lost in Dreams” made for a powerful moment.
The band continued to roll through a series of classics, playing songs one after another in a sort of medley format. Occasionally, some songs would be taken to the next level with brand new instrumental interludes courtesy of a two-piece horn section led by saxophonist Khris Royal who also sported an unidentified high tech looking melodica. Songs like “Outta Control”, “Suffering”, and “So High” had everyone bopping to the upbeats as band members worked their stage space constantly interacting with each other and fans.
Songs with a heavy dose of dub acted as great aids for a group meditation as the band and crowd members would close their eyes and allow the feel and soul of the music to take over. The magic of Rebelution along with stage props matching the cover art of the latest “Count Me In” album continued all night. By the time they left the stage for the first time, the crowd was left begging for more. The cheers and chants matched the levels of the amplified music and it wasn’t long before Eric Rachmany treated us to an intimate acoustic experience before being accompanied by the rest of the group and closing the night out and reminding everyone to look on the “Bright Side of Life”.
This was one of the best tours to come through town in a while. It’s good to be able to enjoy your favorite genre all year round, and Rebelution made sure the winter weather wouldn’t take away from the brightness of the positivity of their message and spirit. The Winter Greens Tour is a can’t miss reggae show with improved presentation, excellent sound quality, and a passionate fan base supporting reggae music from all over the globe. If you consider yourself a fan of the reggae scene, then there is no reason you should miss this show.
Written by Shawn Hallman