Concert review by JD Alvarez
It was Labor Day Weekend 2011 in Southern California. It was a beautiful day to go to a music festival by the Queen Mary, this festival was called the Shoreline Jam. This years line-up featured some of the best bands in reggae and ska. Bands included Hawaiian sensations Pepper and Iration; other notable acts were SOJA, Tomorrows Bad Seeds, and Suburban Legends (SL).
It was a capacity crowd that took in the sights and sounds of this Rastafarian paradise. There were vendors galore, and the weather gave all the concertgoers a good reason to wear their iti-biti-tini-bikini’s and sport their tats and piercings in all their glory.
Although there were several great acts, I really wanted to catch two that I have been following the past year. The first was Suburban Legends. Somehow we were able to coordinate our calls and managed to work out our smart-phone issues. That was a big deal on Rasta-day, and despite all the smoke, somehow we found each other. I spoke with Vince Walker (Lead singer) and Brian Klemm (Lead guitar) of SL before their set. As a journalist, the most inspiring thing that you can observe from any successful artist is that they remain humble with the same passion for their music despite their notoriety. Suburban Legends is definitely that band. Given they were the only ska band at the festival, I asked them about the genre in general. Vince said that ska is sometimes considered the underdog of music genre’s. He went on to say no matter what the challenges, SL is more than happy to be playing the skankin’ tunes for their fans. Brian best summed up a feeling you hear from most people living the dream. He said, ” I am very happy that I can pay my bills doing what I love.” They also touched on the challenges in today’s ska music scene. They said that any newcomer to the scene really has to be in it for the love of the craft. Everything after that, will work itself out. That being said, it was a short interview, and the boys took the stage. In true SL style, they killed it. They gave the crowd their high-energy well choreographed show. For those who had never seen them perform before, they had a stupefied look about them, as if they had just seen a UFO. If you want to see ska at its best, check out SL; you will not be disappointed.
After the SL show, I was able to catch up with Micah Pueschel and Adam Taylor of Iration. I was really looking to chatting with these guys. We started off the interview by discussing the success of Hawaiian artists like Iz, Jack Johnson and Pepper. Adam was quick to point out that these artists have opened doors for several great acts from the Islands. These three have set the bar that that they will all be measured by. I went on to ask them about their beginnings. They mentioned they are from Isla Vista, California. That’s a small college town connected to UC Santa Barbara. However, their roots are from their native home of Hawaii. It’s that background that gives them their unique blend of island reggae, sunshine reggae, dub and their own twist of rock. I told them I was very happy for them and their success with their mega hit Turn Around. They were both gracious and acknowledged their accomplishments of being at the top of the play lists at just about every alternative and reggae station on the planet. Their acknowledgement of their accomplishments came with such a genuine modesty, I was pleasantly surprised how they displayed character far beyond their years.
We moved on to a recent showcase they were part of. Specifically, being featured at X-Fest in San Diego for alternative Power Station 91X. This bill featured such alternative uber bands like Bush, Incubus, Face To Face and Middle Class Rut. Micah went on to say that it was a surreal experience being part of that bill. He also said they had their dressing room across from Incubus. With a very big smile, he said … “how cool is that?!”
I then asked how it feels to be considered one of those bands that have “made it?” Both Micah and Adam shared in the response. They both feel they haven’t made it yet, or at least they don’t want to take that attitude. They said that they want to continue to work hard and put out great music for their fans. They don’t want to get caught up in the hype that comes with a little notoriety. It is evident that they have mega fan support. While I was interviewing them, I could see the crowd in the distance sporting their shirts and hats… one crazy looking dude was running around with a flag that said “IRIE” on one side, and “IRATION” on the other. Both Micah and Adam were very gracious and humble throughout the interview. It’s my opinion that their attitude and great music is what has brought them the critical acclaim and success they have experienced. Those attributes will also help them draw more and more fans, like those that came to see them at Shoreline Jam. Due to timing, we had to cut the interview short. That, and the guys really had to get ready for their show. I left with the opinion that I met with two bands that have their heads on straight, and are adored by their fans for the right reasons. In short, they are genuinely good people that care about their music, and their fans.
The sun had just set and the weather was turning, it was getting much, much cooler. The only thing that was as hot as the weather was earlier in the day, was the energy from the screaming fans when Iration took the stage. The bond between the band and their fans was heavy, it was even felt backstage. The boys did not disappoint, they gave their fans exactly what they came to see and hear. They played their hits, Time Bomb, Turn Around, Wait And See and Cookie Jar. The interaction between Micah and Kai Rediske (Vocals / Percussion) was a great mix and went over swimmingly with the crowd. To the their delight, they ended the show with what can only be described as a very Rastafarian and Ramones-esque cover of Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself. It was a great night in Long Beach, even better if you were a fan of the next big thing in Reggae, Iration!
The band is embarking on their Laid Back Fall Tour, for more information on Iration, or their tour, go to irationmusic.com. You can also visit their social media pages on FaceBook and MySpace. Their LP Time Bomb and EP Fresh Grounds is in stores and on iTunes.
Iration features: Micah Pueschel (Lead Vocals / Guitar), Kai Rediske (Vocals / Percussion) Adam Taylor (Bass), Cayson Peterson (Keyboards), Joseph Dickens (Drums), and Joseph King (Dub Controls / Live Sound).