April 10, 2010
When I heard the Easy Star All Stars were coming to Ybor City for a Saturday night show, I was intrigued. I never knew they were a touring band.
I'm a fan of Easy Star Records, who banded it's best artists together to create reggae tribute albums like Radiodread, Dub Side of the Moon, and Lonely Hearts Dub Band. The touring act currently features eight NYC musicians with impressive instrumentation and vocal chops.
Local roots band Rocksteady@8 opened. Their songs are Reggae interpretations of Soca, Salsa Merengue and Afro-Cuban melodies. It was like Miami dance music got really baked on it's vacation in Jamaica. Front man Jason Nwagbaraocha is a local and sometime bassist for ska legend The Toasters.
The Crowbar was sold out, filled with spun locals. I scored a raised, side stage spot next to Asian keyboard chick Elenna Canlas. Easy Star started out with a few originals; it seemed like a message. They were letting everyone know they weren't a bunch of hacks, whose only purpose is to cover other people's music.
Sgt Peppers songs followed, and the band eventually jumped around featuring tunes from all three cover albums. A twenty something couple behind me dropped liquid during the first act. I remember them singing loud, free, and out of key to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
During Karma Police, I saw other people locked shoulder to armpit in order to keep their faced friends stable and standing, swaying to the consistent bass dub pattern.
The best jams were Great Dub in the Sky and Time. Their Radiohead material came in third and was solid, but my least favorite. Overall the band is very consistent, professional, and performs at a high level. Their web bio boasts many high profile performances, including NYC mayor Micheal Bloomberg's daughter's wedding.
Easy Star finished with a long, trance jam of Eclipse. I finished my fourth dogfishhead 60 minute IPA as they capped off an 80 minute performance. When the lights came on, everyone laughed at how unusually foggy the place was with herb and cigarette smoke.
I stumbled out to 7th ave to watch people file out of booty clubs. I chatted with the street preachers until 3am, upon which I headed to the diner for late night people watching. It was a great night and I recommend seeing them when they come your way.
2010 Easy Star All Star tour schedule