With the Movement and the Green
Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
Friday, November 19, 2010
"This ain't no funky reggae party." So said the late Bradley Nowell, pioneer of the SoCal sound that has been carried on by bands like Slightly Stoopid, Pepper, and a plethora of other beer-slugging, white-boy Jah lovers like Iration and the Movement, who brought the positive vibe from Hawaii and San Diego, respectively, to the Culture Room on Friday night.
Was it a reggae party? Kind of. But, it was more of a reggae-descendant party. We're talking once, maybe twice or thrice removed from the fiery political, spiritual music that began pumping out of Jamaica in the late '60s. The spirit was lively and positive, but the intention seemed to be more focused on creating an atmosphere for young surfer and skater types to get wasted than to drive any sort of "movement of Jah people." Perhaps Miller Lite is part of the movement, I don't know.
Iration is good enough, looking and sounding like the Backstreet Boys of reggae. Perhaps assembled by some kind of mastermind looking to market a band to young, salty potheads, the group features a quiet, passionate lead man, a supercool MC with ball cap pulled low over the eyes, Linkin Park-style, a scruffy, handsome blond on bass, and two less memorable members on keyboard and drums, filling out the image.They do the job of being the band at the party, and that is all.
The music is mellow to the point of being sluggish and lacks edge and originality. Sappy love lyrics ("Just know we'll be together when I see you in my dream of you") and rootsy messages ("Reggae music is the fire, burn inside us everyday/Babylon tried to stop us, but they could never take away") are sung softly and interspersed with rapping on top of basic dub grooves. However unimpressive the content, the band provides solid enough dub to carry the people high into their sloppy, irie moods.
To be fair, Iration seems young and could develop into something more substantial as they age, because they are good. As this reporter was lulled into a standing slumber, the rest of the room, which was mostly made up of underaged, hammered bros and betties, was jumping. Iration can't be expected to pack the roots punch of weathered rastas like Burning Spear. They are young, Sublime-inspired stoners. The guys' reggae with training wheels set featured lots of interaction with the audience ("How we feelin?" "Who likes to smoke weed?" etc.) in between fan favorites like "Time Bomb," "Dream," and "Fire."
When the band left the stage after the set closer "Time Bomb," the crowd instantly started chanting "one more song!" as if it were scripted. About a minute into the chanting, a shaggy, blond dude with a Hawaiian shirt wandered out onto the stage and took the mic. "Where's the chron, bro?" His name was "Laid Back Billy." After standing confused for a moment looking for the party, he was informed that the "smoke" was actually fog meant for theatrics. Then he asked for one more song, and the band came back out and obliged: first with a new tune that was played solo by [what's his name], and then with two more, including "Cookie Jar."
Opening the show were the Green, who, according to the Movement's bass player Jay, are one of the biggest bands in Hawaii. In the second slot, the Movement tore through a high-energy set of their more aggressive style of party reggae-rock. Truly, the headlining Iration was nap time compared to the sweaty fire that the Movement brought Friday night. Shirtless, tattooed, and rowdy, the Movement's performance was much more punk-infused, spiritwise, though they seldom broke from their solid, reggae beat in favor of a punk rhythm.
The crowd: Young girls were screaming, and the dudes were doing their Bob Marley impressions as they spilled beer on the floor.
Personal bias: Grumpy old fuck, spoiled by having seen Steel Pulse, the Resolvers, and Groundation in recent months.
Random detail: Laid Back Billy plays in a band called Through the Roots.
By the way: If you want to know how the Movement's show in Dallas was, don't ask Jay the bass player; he was blacked out. The dudes play hard, skate hard, and party hard.