Don Carlos. At SOhO, Saturday, October 14.
Reviewed by Ethan Stewart
A little before 1 a.m. Saturday night, you could feel the entire dance floor at SOhO bouncing up and down. A libation-soaked and ganja-friendly crowd moved in unison to the skank-heavy rhythms of Don Carlos and his band, who had the wooden floorboards bending. For the first time all night there was no line at the bar, with almost every person in the sold-out crowd transfixed by the sweet sounds of reggae music done right, their bodies bopping in agreement. Smiling and swaggering in the center of it was Don Carlos. With sweat dripping from his graying dreadlocks and beard, his unique blend of dancehall and roots music was the culprit for the en masse ass shakin’ session.
You never know what you are going to get at a reggae show these days. All too often highly anticipated shows prove to be lackluster, uninspired, and short lived. In fact, a Don Carlos show in S.B. a little more than a year ago could have easily fallen into that category. But when the former front man of Black Uhuru came back to town last weekend as the headliner for the Access for All fundraiser, he was anything but disappointing. From “Cool Johnny Cool” to “Just a Passing Glance,” Carlos gave the reggae masses just what they wanted. Strutting the stage, microphone in hand, Carlos kept the hits coming for almost two hours straight.
With a seven-member band — including a very dirty horn section — the music was full, vibrant, and ever positive. And — with a portion of the night’s proceeds going toward the fight for medical marijuana — the good vibes were flowing and billowing around the room straight up until closing time. With his legendary voice backed by heavy reggae beats in a haze-filled dancehall, hundreds of sweaty bodies danced the night away. In short, it was Don Carlos as any fan would have wanted to see him: casual, cock, and slightly stoned.