Join me in reliving the night of reggae, hip-hop, and rock that took place at the Santa Barbara Bowl last Friday. As Stephen Marley started into his opening set, more and more people made their way on stage. There was a lot going on: a little boy swung a flag and ran around the stage, back-up singers who were also dancers flanked the singer, drummers pounded, and more. Throughout his time, Marley encouraged folks to get “irie,” a nod to his father’s classic, “Feeling Irie.” And that’s what his performance was about: spreading good vibes and good community. Among all the crucial, rewarding things to take in from Stephen’s performance was his parting message: “Our future is our responsibility,” he told the crowd.
Then came hip-hop group Cypress Hill, who re-energized the weed smokers and alcohol drinkers in the audience. Needless to say, they were extremely crowd-pleasing. They were also the first to get the mosh pit going, in all its weak and imperfect glory. Then the group introduced the complementary battle between its DJ and its drummer. The combo of scratches and percussion drove the audience wild, as well as into a second attempt at moshing. Cypress Hill delivered some old classics and new tracks, maintaining the energy of the audience throughout, though a number of them were probably high by the time all was said and done.
When Slightly Stoopid started into the first number of their headlining set, the collection of lighter flames flickering in the night seemed countless. As did the references to smoking weed. After dedicating a song to Kurt Cobain, the band launched into their first rock song of the set “Prepare yourselves for the madness of the night,” boomed frontman Miles Doughty. Then they went from ‘90s punk rock to reggae to hip-hop in matters of seconds. But rather than being thrown off by the sudden genre mash-up, the audience seemed enlivened by it and, after many failed attempts, finally managed a successful mosh pit. It was clear that everyone had a good time, and amazing how this night of varied musical stylings was so compatible. Keep it irie.