Don Carlos

At SOhO, Saturday, April 5.

Reggae great Don Carlos packed SOhO on Saturday night with his infectious brand of rootsy jams.
Paul Wellman

There was a point Saturday night at SOhO, well before Don Carlos had taken the stage, when you didn’t even think about going to get a drink, no matter how thirsty you were. It was just that crowded. Hip-hop hippies, dreadlocked white boys, girls in sundresses, and a baker’s dozen of other cannabis-inclined cliques swarmed the place, chasing drinks, talking loudly, and slowly warming up the dance floor to the sounds of Carlos’s band, Dub Vision.

With a blast of pomp and circumstance from the two-piece horn section heralding his arrival, Don Carlos entered stage right, dreadlocks wrapped tightly above his head, eyes smiling, his lanky step perfectly in rhythm with the drum and bass beats. As he moved to the middle of the stage, looking a lot like Snoop Dogg’s Rastafarian grandfather, you could feel a shift in the at-capacity crowd. The energy of the place instantly elevated and focused. Reggae music done right has a power to it unlike anything else, and within two minutes of Carlos’s set it was obvious that the former Black Uhuru frontman was, as his drummer had promised, “in fine form tonight!”

With a smooth, sweet, and undeniably youthful voice, Carlos delivered the goods for nearly two hours-with the nine-member Dub Vision offering refreshingly well-rounded, roots-heavy rhythms every step of the way. From lesser-known tunes like “Cool Jonny Cool” and “Satta Masanga” to signature crowd pleasers like “Just a Passing Glance” and Black Uhuru’s “Stalk of Sensimilla,” Carlos played the part of the skanking Pied Piper to a jam packed-and decidedly red-eyed-dance floor, most of whom were years shy of being even half his age.

Until 1 a.m., the masses were moving and sweating, and the wallflowers out on the patio even swayed their hips and grinned in between stealthy tokes off of marijuana cigarettes and sips from near-empty pint glasses. After a standard-order, though thoroughly enjoyable encore, the spell was snapped, and while most were reluctant to call it a night-no doubt still buzzing from the heavy dose of legendary reggae they’d ingested-the crowd eventually thinned, Saturday night giving way to a much more enjoyable Sunday morning.

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