Iration and Rebelution both got their start playing house parties in Isla Vista, and this past weekend, those roots were plenty evident as the bands returned to town to play the Santa Barbara Bowl. Their supporters turned out in droves, and most were college age, sporting Rasta banners and clothing,
The bill was rounded out by Stick Figure and The Green, both of which played solidly, but Rebelution definitely took the night’s gold medal. The band featured a tight lineup of drums, bass, guitar, keyboard, saxophone, and trumpet. When it came time for solos, the horn section elevated everything far beyond expectations. They played grooving and funky lines with a subtle jazz influence that displayed both players’ mastery of their instruments. Fans were treated to favorites like “Green to Black,” “Safe and Sound,” and “Other Side,” among others. In addition, they offered up alternative song endings and key changes that illustrated the band’s compositional skills.
Reggae is a music genre that is deeply infused with culture and philosophies about how to live life. Its roots trace back to the heart of Kingston in Jamaica, where Bob Marley spearheaded a movement that eventually spread to the world at large. Musically, reggae is often used as a medium to comment on social and political injustices in order to raise awareness about them, as well as promote the free-spirited and open-minded idea that all humans are brothers and that we should treat each other as such. Notions similar to these can be found embedded in Rebelution’s lyrics. For example, in “What I Know,” frontman Eric Rachmany offers up lines like, “Maybe one day we will realize that the answers are in our heart / But we’re killing our own lives, and it’s tearing us apart / One life to live, I’m gonna make it positive for this world that we live in / This is my decision.”
Iration also gave a great performance that started just as the sun set over the hills of Santa Barbara. The band’s rhythm section had the crowd up and grooving right from the first upbeat, smoke wafting through the evening air. Performing before them was Hawai‘i’s The Green, who offered up some heart-wrenching vocal harmonies. Their drummer is a heavy hitter whose chops tied the band’s sound together and laid a great framework for the upstroke. The opening act was Stick Figure, which was originally founded as a one-man band by singer and multi-instrumentalist Scott Woodruff. As a full band, Stick Figure’s music has a bit of an atmospheric and expansive dimension to it. You can definitely hear influences beyond reggae and dub in their songs.
Throughout the night, the music and spirit of Friday’s show was positive and exuberant — and it’s no wonder why. It’s not often two of our own headline the Bowl. That both Iration and Rebelution have repped the 805 music scene so enthusiastically since their departure onto bigger stages was simply the cherry on top of this S.B.-centric sundae.