Live: Dirty Heads & SOJA (4-23-11)

Live: Dirty Heads & SOJA (4-23-11)

Date: April 23rd, 2011
Location: @ Jannus Live, St. Petersburg, FL
Line-Up: SOJA, Dirty Heads & New Politics

The sandy and salty, percussion-infused beach beats of co-headliners SOJA and The Dirty Heads were in the audio, air and everywhere at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg, FL on Saturday night.

The two bands, both known for their trademark reggae musical tendencies, drew a packed house to the outdoor venue beneath the downtown cityscape. After waiting in one of the longest will call lines ever, which contributed to me completely missing New Politics (so bummed!), I made my way into the open air courtyard midway through SOJA’s set.

The twinkling keys of Patrick O’Shea and the sultry horn sections of Hellman Escorcia and Rafael Rodriguez filled the perfectly warm evening atmosphere and shined above the bustling crowd. The scents of an infamous sticky green plant wafted through the venue and everyone seemed to be slightly sauced with a good-natured Saturday night fever as they sipped on plastic cups filled with chosen beverages and swayed to the eclectic sonics.

With many fans sporting SOJA gear to show support, the D.C. roots-reggae rockers were showered with love from the Florida crowd and the always-gracious frontman, Jacob Hemphill, continually thanked the audience for their enthusiasm. On Saturday, Hemphill’s higher-pitched vocals and guitar wails flowed seamlessly with the boombastic basslines and deep vocals of Bobby Lee, creating an irie blend of rastafied rock and marking the no fussin’ and no fightin’ tone for the show. SOJA’s set included I Don’t Wanna Wait, Rest of My Life, Born In Babylon, and You Don’t Know Me as well as various other socially and emotionally conscious tracks off of 2009’s Born In Babylon and 2006’s Get Wiser.

Hailing from Huntington Beach, The Dirty Heads descended down the stairs and onto the Jannus Live stage around 10:30 p.m. and were welcomed by cheers and screams from the mass of anticipating fans in the audience. Duddy B (real name: Dustin Bushnell) assumed a more chillaxed frontman role, accompanied by a mic and guitar and characteristically clad in a low brim with his long blond hair sticking out everywhere. Fellow frontman, the emceeing Dirty J (real name: Jared Watson), took a more brash stance and conducted the crowd’s energy by constantly grooving to the beats and orbiting the stage.

The five-member outfit delivered a high-energy, aurally solid set that sounded stellar as DH’s ocean- bathed flows danced through the open-air environment. The tropical melodies created by the percussion play of Jon Jon (real name: Jon Olazaba), mixed with the bumping drum rhythms of Matt Ochoa and the sudsy basslines of David Foral radiated through sonic space as DH performed various tracks from 2010’s release of Any Port In A Storm, which included, Check the Level, Antelope, Shine, Everything I’m Looking For, Neighborhood, Headphones, No Time For Ya’ll, Stand Tall, Believe, and the encore-ender, radio-hit, Lay Me Down. The rapping beach boys also sprinkled in a new, heady groove I’ll refer to as We Will Rise as well as their dubbed down cover of Rolling Stones’ Paint it Black, – a staple of the band’s live shows.

Overall, is was a night of positive, splifted and lifted vibrations on Florida’s gulf coast made possible by two bands representing the sounds of reggae from both the east and west coasts of the country.

Written by: Amber McDonald

Here is a video Amber got from the crowd of Dirty Heads doing Believe