Five days after returning from their tour of Hawaii, Guam, and Europe, reggae rockers Rebelution returned to their Santa Barbara stomping grounds at the Arlington Theater last Thursday night. Their upbeat, high energy was matched only by the genuine excitement of a particularly youthful crowd, which consisted of mostly high school and college students, and a few Santa Barbara legends, including Jimmy J.
Audience members rushed the dimming front stage as the four band members—voalist/guitarist Erick Rachmany, bassist Marley Williams, keyboardist Rory Carey, and drummer Wesley Finley—emerged from the smoke and darting multicolored lights. The entrance immediately signaled a switch from the band’s humble beginnings, which consisted mostly of house party shows in Isla Vista. “I think we have more energy than when we started. We have more passion the more we play,” said keyboardist Carey concerning the group’s evolution.
The band played both old favorites and recent creations, most of which the audience was readily willing to sing along to. Vocalist Rachmany turned the microphone over to the crowd at one point during “Feelin Alright,” making the large, spacious theater vibrate with energy.
The overall message and mood for the night was positivity and happiness, as Rachmany announced to the crowd before kicking into “Bright Side of Life.” Other songs, such as “Lazy Afternoon” and “Wake Up Call,” kept the crowd going strong throughout the show.
The most impressive aspect of Rebelution’s performance proved to be their ability to control the crowd’s mood with the pluck of a string. Although audience members remained attentive the entire time, each jam put a different spin on the theater’s mood, ranging from a peaceful, swaying sobriety to fans jumping around, dancing on chairs with enthusiasm.
Although Rebelution has grown from party band to reggae chart topping, their performance at the Arlington reflected a homey, down to earth feeling that cold have made any original beach city kid nostalgic for their first reggae show.
Throughout the show, Santa Barbara local Jimmy J, donned a Santa Barbara flag and waved it proudly for the duration at the head of the stage, not only making the crowd pulse in cheers but also created a sense of hometown camaraderie. Meanwhile Williams, seemingly impervious to the harmonious coos of young adoring female fans, floated slowly through the set with an air of expert grace.
“Santa Barbara has always been a sort of comfort zone for me,” he told the crowd. “Coming back here and seeing all of our original fans still enjoying our music and supporting us reminds me of why we do this and what it’s all about.”