Franti's jaw fell to the floor, but the music didn't stop. Lucky for skeleton-stagehand man, Franti's girlfriend, an emergency-room nurse, was just off stage to check his vitals. He must have been OK. He continued to swap and tune instruments for the musicians.
Keeping the energy up is effortless for Franti, who frequently abandoned the stage for some one-on-one time with the group swirling and dancing to the rhythms of Manas Itiene's drums and Carl Young's bass. Here he comes... And there he goes, hugging everyone he brushed up against like the mayor of sunshine or the ambassador of snuggles.
Some hugs lasted longer than others. How does Franti decide who needs a longer hug? Some of the mysteries in this life may never be resolved.
Here he comes... And there he goes again, dreads flying, people hugging. To the balcony on both sides, into the VIP area, which is always a desert but had one or two folks occupying the six couches and four tables this particular night.
Over and over again, in and out of the crowd, barefoot, belting out tunes and prefacing them with simple and unintentional "Everyman" logic, "This song is about some bad days. And some good days. You know how you have some good days and then some bad days?" or "I wrote this song when my appendix ruptured and had to have emergency surgery." Or he launched into a reality check about life and death, kindness and charity -- addressing the dark without entirely destroying the light that can exist behind those stories. It was the kind of storytelling that is so human that it borderlines on mundane, but it forces the listener to get the underlying message: Yeah, you're not the only one who does this or feels this or hears this or thinks this. You are not special, but you are an integral part of all of this.
The set covered a broad range, including key tracks from the latest release, All People, as well as tracks peppered in from Yell Fire! and The Sound of Sunshine (insert heart melt). In the fashion of a true lover of life, Franti recognized this weekend's Dia de Los Muertos holiday and slinked into Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side," executing a sincere tribute as an offerenda to the late and soulful troubadour.
Michael Franti's goal is to connect. To not only ride the wave of electromagnetic energy that binds us all but to remain a driving force behind that wave. Last night, one hug at a time, he got into the brains and hearts of Fort Lauderdale and flipped the human switch to the highest setting. Now if he could only convince the ladies in the audience to never wear spike-heeled shoes to a show where most folks are barefoot or in sandals. "This song is about receiving medical attention for a spiked heel wound on Halloween one year..."