Date: Friday, January 20, 2012
Line up: Tomorrows Bad Seeds, Pacific Dub, Green River Vibe
Location: Marquis Theatre. Denver, CO
The Lower-Downtown neighborhood, or “Lodo” as we Denver locals call it, was in the early stages of a typical Friday night. The parking lots were getting full, the bars were lively and the downtown air was filling up with the sights and sounds you would expect to start the weekend—club music, screams from people far from sober and the roar of taxis dropping off Denver’s finest, and not so finest. I wasn’t headed to the usual night spots in Lodo, like a club, a sports bar or some trendy restaurant. I was headed to the Marquis Theater to see reggae-rock acts, and road warriors, Tomorrows Bad Seeds (or “the Seeds”) and supporting band Pacific Dub during the “Spread the Seed Tour.”
My job was to hook-up with the bands, get a press photo, some live shots and see a great show. This would be the third time in the last year that I had seen Tomorrows Bad Seeds. My first time was at the Ogden Theatre when they opened for the legendary Wailers; and my second time was in November during the Lei’d Back Tour with Iration at the Bluebird Theatre. This was also the second time that I would see Pacific Dub. The first was about a year ago when they opened for rock-reggae powerhouse the Dirty Heads at Summit Music Hall. But, most importantly, Friday night would be the first time Tomorrows Bad Seeds would headline their own show in Denver. Given that Denver is a must stop for musicians—huge, small, rock, country, hip-hop, and everything in between—I figured that Friday would provide a glimpse into how far Tomorrows Bad Seeds, and Pacific Dub, had come over the last year or so.
The Marquis Theatre was three quarters full and quickly filling up as local band Green River Vibe was finishing their set. Huntington Beach’s Pacific Dub was slated to go on around 9:30—only 20 minutes away. I turned my attention to Tomorrows Bad Seeds’ merch booth to track down the band’s tour manager. As a live music photographer, I know that locating managers on the night of a show, not to mention getting the band together, is like herding cats—feral ones. But, to my surprise, the merch guy was able to help me out and after about 10 minutes not only did the manager greet me, but (lead singer) Moises Juarez did as well. The guys agreed to help me out by getting the entire band together for press photo—the caveat being I would have to get the band photo right before they took the stage.
At 9:30 Pacific Dub took the stage to a lively crowd of young girls, middle-aged folks and a mix of punk, reggae and hip-hop fans. The highlight of the set was the groups new single, “Wasted.” The guys would later tell me how blown away they were when they kicked into the song, as the crowd sang along just about as loud as lead singer Colton Place. They did not expect a crowd out of their hometown to know the song, let alone every word. This is just one indication that Pacific Dub is definitely making some waves in the scene.
After Pacific Dub’s set ended I made my way to the stage to track down Tomorrows Bad Seeds’ manager. He took me backstage and introduced me to bassist Andre Davis and guitarist Matthew McEwan. They both agreed to help me out with the press photo. As I stood backstage, the scene was controlled chaos—Pacific Dub was moving gear off stage, Tomorrows Bad Seeds crew was moving gear on stage, the sound techs were checking levels and the crowd was stirring. I watched as drummer Patrick Salmon practiced by hitting a drum head cover on the stairway railing—his long hair hanging in his face. He did not say a word as people brushed by him in the narrow hallway. I watched as bassist Andre Davis and guitarist Sean Chapman congratulated the guys from Pacific Dub on a great show. The exchanges between the bands were supportive and genuine—almost like an older brother cheering at a football game. The backstage environment was relaxed and seemed void of stress or anxiety. The Seeds stood in near silence, not saying much to each other as the time drew near; however, there was a quiet confidence and swagger that seemed to emanate from each band member.
It was time. The stage was set; the crowd was ready and the lights dimmed, as the guys from Tomorrows Bad Seeds gathered backstage. I went to lead singer Moises Juarez and said, “You guys ready for the shot.” He said, “Absolutely, tell us where you want us.” I led the band, guitars in hand, to a stairwell located around the corner from the backstage hallway. With the roar of the crowd looming in the background, they quickly positioned themselves and I snapped three shots. Each of the guys personally thanked me, and shook my hand—sadly, this exchange is not typical in the music scene. As a photojournalist, I been around a lot bands, large and small, and the guys from Tomorrows Bad Seeds where some of the nicest guys I have met in the music scene. As I hung out with the band, I got the “we take care of the guys (The Pier) who take care of us” feeling.
The Seeds took to the stage with a new lighting set, flanking the band on both sides of the stage. The stage was nearly dark as the band broke into the intro of “Reflect.” The energy continued to build as lead singer Moises Juarez emerged from backstage, the lights came up and he yelled into the mic, “everybody jump!” I could feel the floor moving and shifting under my feet as the near capacity crowd responded. Another highlight was the Seeds cover of Amy Whinehouse’s “Valerie.” Lead singer Moises Juarez introduced the song saying, “This song goes out to the baddest seed of them all, Amy Whinehouse. Also, we dedicate this song to the late Etta James.” (The R&B legend lost her battle with leukemia earlier in the day.) The set continued with a remixed version “Heatless” that included an interlude of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” as well as a cover of Bob Marley’s classic “Get Up Stand Up.”
Following the show I couldn’t help but think about how impressed I was with Tomorrows Bad Seeds, as well as Pacific Dub—both as professional musicians and people. The Seeds, the self-proclaimed “leaders of the new school,” had put on a great show—full of energy, interactions with the crowd and musically solid. The capacity crowd couldn’t get enough. All these indicators are positive signs that The Seeds have not only carved out a niche in the rock-reggae scene, they are poised to expand their unique, and diverse, musical talents into the future. If the show in Denver was any indication, Tomorrows Bad Seeds not only continue to spread their seed, their seed is taking root with reggae-rock fans.
– Article & Photos By: Kit Chalberg
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