Date: Friday, March 29th, 2014
Line Up: Natural Vibrations w/students Adam & Anuhea (different singer named Anuhea)
Venue: Kaiser High School Cougar Stadium in Hawai’i Kai
Everyone I have spoken to on Oahu knows about Natty Vibes and has seen them at a house party, luau, or concert venue since 1994. Either that or they heard them blasted on someone’s iPod, radio station, or boom box since 1996. In the year I have been on the island, I could only read status updates from my peers at The Pier, having a great time with the boys of Natural Vibrations and Polynesian Underground.
“Natty Vibes is the island’s band,” proclaimed Beau from the north shore. “Everyone knows Natty Vibes. Everyone used to have them play at their graduation parties and then they started touring.” This island is proud of the hard work they put in as island ambassadors. “They just have good music,” he said.
They kicked off their fifth tour within a year and a half by giving some ALOHA to their ohana at Kaiser High School Cougar Stadium in Hawai’i Kai. Random bursts of smoke rose from the parking lot. I speculated on what was causing the smoke until we saw a delicious array of food trucks getting ready to pack up from the end of a festival hosted by the Kaiser High School PTA.
The stage was set up on the 10-yard line, instruments and large PA ready to go. Small clusters of students, spectators and families began to gather as dark and threatening rain clouds moved in from the mountains with a quickness. The drizzle began to fall harder and faster. Many people scattered and ran for cover as we hastily moved the keyboards and set up the tarp to block the oncoming torrential storm.
“We have Natural Vibrations still coming up!” a determined parent proclaimed on the microphone. Rain or shine, the show must go on. I remembered my high school’s PTA would have bands perform at lunch, but it would have been called at the first sign of increment weather. This Parent/Teacher Association was finishing the day with Natty Vibes.
The rain subsided and those dedicated fans who toughed the weather enjoyed the opening up and coming local student musicians, Anuhea (not to be confused with the folk singer from Maui) and Adam. Anuhea gave us a beautiful rendition of Colbie Caillat’s song “Bubby” while Adam showed off his music talent with some of his acoustic country originals and a pure and really clean version of Lorde’s track “Royal”. It takes a lot of courage for anyone to get up on stage in front of any amount of people. Natty Vibes dedicated “Put Some Time” to the kids. Their homework is still due on Monday.
The heart of the storm moved around the high school and settled in the distance to the Southwest. The random bursts of lightning behind the stadium scoreboard created a perfect backdrop to the stage setting. The stars had already appeared directly above us as a good omen that those who stayed were in for a good night of music. The stage lights went to work and the fog machine created a stage ambiance and a parent called Natural Vibrations up on the stage to perform.
Natty Vibes does not care whom they are playing in front of or how many people are in attendance. Their job is to bring their rock, roll, reggae and soul to anyone that lends them their ears. Out of the hundreds of shows I have been to in my life, I have discovered that it is extremely challenging to get a small crowd going, unless of course you’re in a rowdy punk rock club. Everyone was moving and swaying. Kids were running around and dancing. Everyone was having a great time.
It did not matter the size of the crowd, there could have been a thousand people there when guitarist Wayne Enos asked everyone if we were having a good time to applause and cheers. Jehua Evans matched Wayne’s energy, and blowing hair, with groovin’ bass lines and flowing dreadlocks.
“Play Put A Little Love!” yelled a spectator from the stands. “You gotta come down here, bruddah!” responded lead singer Peni Dean.
Musicians show their passion for music by trading places on stage and picking up different instruments. The modest crowd roared as Peni took helm from Shane Abraham at keyboards while he moseyed over and rocked out Jehua’s bass. Jehua took over duties on guitar as Wayne went into the percussion pit. Out from behind the beat ensemble came Kayton “Sly Mongoose” Macarlola who spat venom into the microphone with his quick and killer vocal talent. Drummer Tony Saenz continued to reign behind the kit on his throne.
It was just over halfway into their set and the mellow audience was having a great time. What happened next would change the atmosphere, energy and course of the show…
Out from the end zone, from what would only seem like some kind of 1960s locker room, eight people twirled and frolicked their way to the front of the stage with flowers adorning in their hair. I was sober, but I had visions of rainbows and butterflies spewing some kind ancient mana over the field. They continued to spin each other, dance around in circles like prehistoric banshees. Soon enough a couple came from the back and danced with them. Parents gave children their nod of approval to join them, but observed cautiously from the sideline of the newly formed dance floor that made up over half the crowd. Students and onlookers pulled out their smart phones to capture this magical moment and hopefully share it on their favorite social media outlet.
I leaned over to photographer Adam Cole Barber, “Where did these guys come from?” With an astounded look on his face he responded with, “Hippies are always late, man.”
They showed up after the storm had blown away and were following the rainbows that appear after Hawai’i downpours. It’s a lesson that all of us should learn. You never know if you will find a natural source of positive vibes unless you chase the rainbows.
The rest of the set was incredible. Even the security guards yelled “Hana Hou!” as they sang along and captured the event with their phones.
The Kaiser High School PTA deserves a lot of credit for their hard work and love for their students. Not a lot of parents support this kind of music and I want to give major props to those that were involved with the organization of this event. Natty Vibes will take a couple of weeks to prepare for an ambitious tour, stateside and are looking forward to spreading their good vibes and pleasing with the prescription to your audio ailments.
Natty Vibes Set List:
1.) Natural Vibrations
3.) It Don’t Come Easy
4.) Better World
5.) Work With You
7.) Freedom Fighters
8.) Okana Road
9.) Hot Like Fire
10.) Make You Stay
11.) Sit Upon A Rhythm
12.) Got This Music
13.) Never Never
14.) Mary Jane
15.) You & I
16.) Green Harvest
18.) Let It Grow
19.) Balls Rolling
20.) One on One
21.) Put A Little Love
Article by: Blake Taylor
Photos by: Adam Cole Barber
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