Date: Friday, Aug 23rd. 2013
Line Up: Iration, Through The Roots, Fortunate Youth, Micah Brown
Venue: TLA. Philadelphia, PA
Located down on South Street in Philadelphia, in the heart of a cultural center, the Theatre of the Living Arts (TLA) boasts a nice up close and personal venue for a live show.
Just behind the venue, is an alley way called Kater Street where I found the guys from Fortunate Youth before the show doing a little acoustic set, courtesy of the good people at Vita Coco, (Coconut Water).
Performing their song “One Love” off their latest album It’s All a Jam, was Dan Kelly on vocals, Travi Bongos on guitar, Jordan on Cajon, and Corey on guitar. The guys played right outside for a small group of us under these extraordinary mosaics on the walls of this back alley. It was a little surreal and humorous at the same time, as Dan made friends with the local homeowner and showed his true nature of ‘we are all brothers’.
After the set, I caught up with Jered Draskovich (keys/bass) and Jordan (drums) for a minute where we talked about Philly and reggae music. Jordan was actually born and raised in Philly so it “makes him proud to be back, and to represent the 1st capital,” he laughed and said “I love to come back and play here down at the TLA, it’s a whole different experience on the east coast.”
All three of us continued talking about the east coast vs west coast reggae-rock scene, but Jered pointed out “the experience is different here, but honestly it’s all the same love. The sounds may change but the love stays the same.” We all came to the conclusion that it’s not a east vs west or whose better type of thing. In fact, Jordan commented “we have to unite the whole scene with reggae around the world.”
A little while afterwards, Micah Brown hit the stage, all by himself, just a man and his guitar. He really rocked the small crowd that began to gather right in front of him. After his performance I got talking with Zach Betz whose uncle is actually Sean Betz from Bong Hits for Jesus, a band who plays often in the area. He said “I heard that Micah was playing a show tonight, so I got out of work and came right down here to get to see his set. He was awesome because of his reggae/folk blend that he is able to bring.”
After Micah Brown’s performance, Fortunate Youth showcased a lot of their latest album Its All a Jam. With bongo solos by Travi, and Dan’s unbelievable voice, the whole mood of the TLA just shifted into something special. By the end of their set, the whole crowd was chanting “smoke with me” as Fortunate Youth finished with their hit song (and my personal favorite) “Peace, Love and Unity.”
Following up Fortunate Youth was Through The Roots & these guys have a shitload of energy, coming right from their guitarist/vocalist, Evan Hawkins. He brings uplifting vibes into something that is literally and figuratively a “movement”, while he hopped into the pit and even climbed on the amps. With a rock vibe, Through The Roots highlighted guitar solos from Evan, and energetic bass lines from Ross Garcia.
They recently dropped their latest album Take You There, which saw a lot of airtime last night, playing most of the songs off their new release. One of the bands highlights was their ability to mix in Calvin Harris’ hit single “Feels So Close”, blowing away fans, raising the energy of this show.
While talking to fans, I spoke with Billy a.k.a Squid, after their performance. He said “I’m a huge SOJA fan, so I cam here with a couple friends to check out Iration. Everyone played a great set tonight but Through The Roots really blew me away. I’m definitely now a fan.”
With what continued throughout the night was this sense of community and love. There was hardly any security, which proved that these fans are here to appreciate this amazing music. It was literally “One Love”, not separated by the west or east coast, but brought together, like a bridge, through the music that was on stage.
During Iration’s performance, lead singer Micah Pueschel said “Whose here to party? It’s Friday night, so we’ll play the music and you guys have a good time.”
That was literally what this was all about; a movement of love and unity in this reggae community. I asked another fan, Nick, what was one word that he would use to describe Iration – He said “Blissful”.
Iration put on a great show, and as I looked down from the balcony above, I spotted some of the guys from Fortunate Youth hanging out with their buddies from Through The Roots, all the while jamming along, being part of this blissful atmosphere.
Showcasing only a few of their new songs off their latest album Automatic, Iration blew away the crowd, highlighting old favorites like “Time Bomb” and “Turn Around”. As they finished their set, the Philly crowd didn’t leave, getting an awesome encore of Tom Petty’s classic “Last Dance With Mary Jane” and one of my favorite Iration jams, “Falling”.
What the fans heard was the music, and what it became, was a movement. Where that movement started was the love you found behind the stage, between the bands hanging out, drinking brews and smoking tree.
Backstage I ran into a couple of the guys from Philly’s own Three Legged Fox who were hanging around with Fortunate Youth’s drummer Jordan. Philly roots run deep between these guys and whether they knew each other for a month, a year, or 10 years, I really couldn’t tell. What I saw between them was something special & this love & respect between bands. East and West coast was sitting right in front of my face.
It was amazing to see the whole process work. To be behind the stage watching these guys interact with huge smiles on their faces. From the dedication to the talent they put out there on the stage was contagious, leading to a welcoming, loving energy throughout the venue and into the hearts of the fans.
Jered Draskovich (keys/bass of FY) said it best, “Its all about the fans. And the sounds may change but the love stays the same.”
Iration Set List:
2.) Turn Around
3.) Wait and See
5.) One Way Track
6.) Back Around
7.) Can’t Wait
9.) No Time
10.) Go That Road
11.) I’m With You
12.) Summer Nights
13.) Time Bomb
14.) Last Dance With Mary Jane (Tom Petty Cover)