Date: April 21st, 2011
Location: @ The Belly Up. Solana Beach, CA
Line-Up: Iration, Mike Pinto & Lexo The Great
What: Fresh Grounds Tour
Located a block up from Pacific Coast Highway in beautiful Solana Beach, CA, David Norris, Brendon Davis & myself made our way to the internationally acclaimed Belly Up Tavern for a Thursday night of Reggae, Blues, Soul, Rock and well…Rap. Heralded as one of the hottest clubs on the west coast by Rolling Stone Magazine and receiving the crown of “San Diego’s Best Live Music Venue” by several publications, the night couldn’t hold higher expectations.
On the bill for the night was Law Records very own Iration accompanied by the Mike Pinto Band & Lexo The Great. The Holdup was scheduled to open the night to promote their new album Still Gold, but their tour van had broken down and they were replaced by Dubstep/Rapper Lexo the Great. Lexo came in with good friends Iration as they have a song together titled Another Day that has been receiving consistent airplay on LA’s FM 103.1. Lexo was there promoting his Dubstep EP that is set to be released on June 21st & took the stage at 9pm for a 4 song, 15minute set.
Lexo The Great is a rapper. Plain and simple, no hype men on stage with him, just him and a microphone with his DJ located off stage spinning Dubstep that Lexo rapped over. Sporting a trucker hat with the front bill bent upwards and a button down flannel with jeans, Lexo had the crowd chanting My weedman My weedman, my number 1 homie during the second song appropriately titled Weedman. Lexo described the song on stage as a song about your weedman being your best friend, as a friend with weed, is a friend indeed. At first, I’m not sure the crowd knew how to respond to a solo rapper on stage, but only taking the mic for 15minutes, he didn’t overstay his welcome & paced the un-expecting crowd well, raising his fist over the sea of hands directing them which way to sway.
The night was hosted by 91x, a local San Diego radio station who have been promoting Iration’s latest single Turn Around as well as Time Bomb over the last few weeks. In attendance for the sold out show were folks from Law Records, Sector 9, Stick Figure, Andre Davis of Tomorrows Bad Seeds, Chris Warner of Jet West, Gravity Skateboards, Silver Surfer Vapes; well maybe no one from Silver Surfer Vapes was in attendance, but their product was in heavy rotation both backstage & at the merchandise booths. It’s clear that this is more than just a scene, a fad or a phase, but a movement with everyone in full support of its message, direction & energy.
At just 9:30pm on an already packed, sweaty, fun loving Thursday night, Mike Pinto took the stage accompanied by a keyboard player & horn section. Mike played new songs West Is Still Wild, Cool & The Deadly & one for the ladies, another new one called Turn You On. The crowd went from swaying to the soothing soulful sounds of Turn You On to a mosh pit during Full Speed. Before playing Temptation Mike thanked San Diego for the inspiration behind the first song he ever wrote when he moved out to Cali from Philadelphia. But the best appearance of the night and the pinnacle of Mike’s set was when he invited Slightly Stoopid’s own De La to play Saxophone during the song Backburner. With both a Trumpet & Saxophone solo, one can only hope someone was recording during this particular song of the set. The only disappointing part of the set was when the crowd was demanding, I mean chanting, ONE MORE SONG, ONE MORE SONG!. Unfortunately no encore came, but Mike Pinto would be back before the night was over.
It was 11pm when the fog machine filled up the night & merged with clouds of mysterious smoke while Iration marched on stage immediately syncing into an intro jam session before unraveling into the crowd favorite Time Bomb. Fans sang back up never missing a single Time Bomb through the song. Playing songs such as You Dont Know, Get Back To Me, Let Me Inside & No Letter, the energy was filled with love that Ron Burgundy would report as a night of some Baby Makin Music. Truth is, if you were there and you didn’t take the one you loved home and had some baby makin action, then chances are, you did something terribly wrong. I’m just saying guys, take your girl to an Iration show & see if a live version of Love/Hate doesn’t bring a little more love than the hate out of the relationship.
The Pinnacle of the night came for the final song with what was described to me by Mike Pinto’s merchandise manager, Josh Zimmer, as a BRODEO. Whats a BRODEO? It was described to me that a BRODEO is when both bands get together on stage for a track and in this instance it was for a cover song. So we have Iration & Mike Pinto Band, both bands completely on stage together to do a cover of UB40’s cover of The Temptations song The Way You Do The Things You Do. EVERYONE was on stage, the entire horn section, including De La blasting the saxophone. The crowd went absolutely nuts when Iration introduced Mike Pinto into the cover of the song. So for all the Pinto fans that didn’t get their encore following Pinto’s set, you should be fine with Iration & Mike Pinto in a live BRODEO collaboration! This is why you should always stay till the very end of a show.
So while The Belly Up lived UP to their heralded publications as one of the hottest clubs on the west coast, so did the live performance of Iration, Mike Pinto & Lexo The Great. The Fresh Grounds tour put a stamp on San Diego & if we’re lucky, we’ll see Iration come back on a full fledged tour w/Mike Pinto. My only hope leaving this show was that I come to the next one with a special someone to take advantage of that baby makin music & maybe make sure the sound man is recording behind the booth so we all have something to share! So once again, in the words of Ron Burgundy, You Stay Classy San Diego!
Written By: Mike Patti
Photos By: Dave Norris
Video By: Brendon Davis
Here is the video of the infamous live BRODEO collaboration with Iration & Mike Pinto connecting on a cover of UB40’s
The Way You Do The Things You Do.