Live: Steel Pulse, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Panda! at Wanee (4/20/13)

Live: Steel Pulse, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Panda! at Wanee (4/20/13)

Date: Thursday – Saturday, April 18th – 20th, 2013
Line Up: Steel Pulse, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
Venue: Spirit of Suwannee Music Park. Wanee Music Festival.

Down in Live Oak, Florida, The Pier was fortunate enough to be able to attend the 9th annual Wanee Music Festival in the natural beauty of the iconic Spirit of Suwannee Music Park. A three day fest hosted by The Allman Brothers Band, the event boasted a stellar line-up featuring acts such as Widespread Panic, Gov’t Mule, Les Claypool, Tedeschi Trucks, Dumpstaphunk, Greyboy Allstars and more.

Among all the acts performing over the weekend, The Pier was there to cover the Reggae portion of the festival, spending Saturday watching Steel Pulse, Michael Franti & Spearhead as well as Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad!.

Early That 4/20…
Waking up early on the morning of Friday the 19th, a familiar wind started to blow out of the West. As everyone started to look up, camp site echoed their forecast of “its gonna rain” through the woods of the park.

The 30,000-person crowd certainly noticed the rain. Some stood under umbrellas, some perched under sport shades, but many embraced the rain, dancing in the water allowing the weather to add to the experience. After a day of drenched jamming from the headliners, the temperature dropped as the night show of Steel Pulse, was ready to heat things up.

Beginning about 20 minutes after the clock struck midnight, the legendary Steel Pulse took the stage, kicking off the festival’s 4/20 with their famous Reggae music.

Starting into their hour and a half performance with “Prodigal Son,” the group went right into “Rollerskates,” breaking out the hit early; perhaps to cheer up the soaked, but dedicated fans dancing along in a muddy pit.

Packing the Mushroom stage, there was barley enough room for front man, David ‘Dread’ Hinds, to dance as the eight-piece raged through 15 tracks. Playing a set list any Steel Pulse fan would love, the set featured “Man No Sober,” a song the band has not played in 30 years, “RockSteady,” the single from the sound track the band wrote for the film of the same name, as well as many favorites from their immense discography such as “Chant a Psalm,” and Steppin’ Out.”

After a roots-riddim filled set, just before 2am, Steel Pulse ended their set of issue based Reggae music with “Who Responsible.”.

Later That 4/20…
Following a day of rain and a morning of ugly skies, Michael Franti & Spearhead filled Saturday’s 2:30pm slot performing between Leon Russell, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Now, we aren’t positive that Fanti is a Sun God, but as his music started, Franti literally brought the sun out for everyone at Wanee.

As the band’s music rang out through the enormous field, the clouds finally started to part, while Franti and the band went into “I Don’t Wanna Go.”

It didn’t take long for Franti to walk off the stage, performing closer to the crowd. Several songs in, Franti approached the crowd, climbed up on the wooded barricade railing, singing as he walked along the railing for its entire length. If that wasn’t enough, Franti jumped into the crowd making his way into the middle of the pack hugging and giving high fives to everyone.

Four tracks in, the stage crew came out with a cake and hats to celebrate Franti’s birthday, as the crowd sang him “Happy Birthday”. Going right into “Do It For The Love,” Franti bounced around the stage, before returning to the top of the audience railing, playing acoustic with his birthday hat on.

A few songs later, Franti brought up a crowd of people to dance on stage to help him sing “Gangster Girl.” Near the end of the song, one crazy girl decide to do a hand stand, dancing around on her hands. Not to be out done, Franti joined her standing on his head, while singing the end of the song.

Slowing the show down for a minute, Franti brought out his special guests as he told the Wanee crowd about Hope and Steve’s incredible story. In 2011, Steve was diagnosed with ALS, (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Since the diagnosis, Steve and Hope have battled this terrible disease that currently has no cure. Hope for Steve is an organization that they started to spread ALS awareness. Franti encouraged everyone to support the cause as he appropriately went into a very moving version of the song “Life Is Better With You.”

After his gift to Steve, Franti brought several kids up on stage, handed them all the same very expensive guitars he had been playing all set, and allowed the kids to pretend to jam along as guitarist, Jboogie played a little Hendrix.

Towards the end of the set, Franti had one more surprise for the Wanee crowd. Warren Hayes of Gov’t Mule and The Allman Brothers, along with Artimus Pyle formerly of Lynyrd Skynyrd joined the band for a Hayes infused version of “Long Ride.”

Franti ended the epic set with his hit song, “Say Hey,” allowing a little girl to sing the ending chorus, as Franti whispered the lyrics into her hear. Just one more of the many memorable moments of the set.

Directly after the set, Franti kept on giving as he took as much time as needed to talk with, autograph, hug, and shake hands, with any fan that wanted to line the front railing. The set was energetic, and full of good vibes. With his afternoon set, Franti proved his music is the Sound of Sunshine. Truly one of the most inspirational sets I have ever seen!

Even Later That 4/20…
Directly after Widespread Panic’s amazing second set, just as the darkness appeared, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad started on the Mushroom stage. Playing the coveted spot between the second Widespread and Allman Borthers’ set, Panda! performed a nonstop hour and a half set. Scheduled from 8:30 to 9:30, the Panda crew, along with the crowd, was having so much fun, the group extended the set, playing an extra 30minutes.

We have seen Panda before, but during this set, the Panda crew seemed to really be on. Obviously excited to be performing at the festival, the band ran through their set, playing a 12 song set-list. Starting with “Whatever” the band went right into “Missing You More,” then “Pockets,” followed by favorite after favorite. Panda! even whipped out “New Speedway Boogie,” playing one of the few Grateful Dead covers of the weekend.

It was apparent Panda has a large following down in the South, as the band had the amphitheater packed! Towards the end of the set, like music to their fans ears, Panda announced their efforts on new music before breaking out new song, titled “Mr. Cop,” and activist song about marijuana, perfect for the 4/20 holiday.

The last song listed on their set list was ”Far away”. On my way out of the pit as the song began to conclude, Panda switched over to “Burkina Faso.” As the Allman Brothers Band started up on the main stage, the group busted out one last track, ending the set with the spirited and funky “Ok.”

Starting with Steel Pulse playing the midnight set, seeing Franti brighten up the afternoon, and then watching Panda destroy, was definitely an amazing way to bring the Reggae vibes to a festival that’s dominated by southern rock. 2013’s Wanee Music festival was one for the books, and The Pier was thrilled to be out there over the weekend, rain or shine, to celebrate the 420 holiday!

Steel Pulse Set List:
1.) Prodigal Son >
2.) Roller Skates
3.) Rally Round
4.) Chant A Psalm
5.) No More Weapons
6.) Man No Sober
7.) Blues Dance Raid
8.) Pan Africans Unite
9.) Rocksteady
10.) Drug Squad
11.) Black & Proud
12.) Steppin’ Out
13.) Let Freedom Ring
14.) Babylon Makes The Rules
15.) Who Responsible

Michael Franti’s Set List:
1.) Intro > I Don’t Wanna Go
2.) Yes I Will
3.) Hello Bonjour
4.) Do It For The Love
5.) All I Want Is You
6.) Sound of Sunshine
7.) Closer To You
8.) Gansta Girl
9.) Life Is Better With You
10.) Hey World
11.) Yell Fire
12.) Hey Hey Hey
13.) I’ll Be Waiting
14.) All People
15.) Long Ride
16.) I’m Alive
17.)Say Hey
18.) I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like)

PANDA! Set List:
1.) Whatever
2.) Missing You More
3.) Pockets
4.) Healing
5.) Love You More
6.) Seasons Change
7.) Moon
8.) New Speedway Boogie
9.) Mr. Cop
10.) Far Away
11.) Burkina Faso
12.) OK

Steel Pulse Links:
Steel Pulse Website
Steel Pulse Facebook

Michael Franti’s Links:
Michael Franti’s Website
Michael Franti’s Facebook

PANDA! Links:
PANDA! Website
PANDA! facebook

Article By: Aaron Solomon
Photos By: Peter Monti

More Photos From The Night: