On Friday, August 28, legendary reggae artist Don Carlos and his band Dub Vision performed downtown at SOhO, just two weeks after the Jamaican native joined Slightly Stoopid onstage for their show at the Santa Barbara Bowl.
Having been in attendance for the Bowl performance, I was eager to see if his presence in a much smaller venue would be any different. Though his musical style and swagger remained largely identical, seeing Carlos in such close quarters made it readily apparent how much he appreciates and adores his fans.
Over the course of a two-hour set, his vibrant warmth radiated throughout the building (likely contributing to the sweltering heat inside SOhO), and his ever-present ear-to-ear grin made you feel like long lost friends reunited.
Before the celebrated Rastafarian arrived on stage, The Olés of Isla Vista started the night off with a taste of their coastal vibes, effectively sharing what it means to live on the California coast. After featured artist Christos DC led Dub Vision through a brief interlude, the band launched into a medley to announce Carlos’ arrival.
Over the course of the night, the audience was treated to a variety of classics that encompassed all of Don Carlos’s 40-plus year career. As confirmed by Dub Vision’s bassist, there was no definitive set list prepared as the band typically just “pulls songs out of a hat.”
Drawing from all throughout an expansive discography, their performance consisted of favorites like “I Just Can’t Stop,” “Spread Out,” “Time,” “Favorite Cup,” and “Movin’.” In addition to bringing out numerous guest vocalists — too many, in fact, to keep track — Carlos invited Christos back onstage late in the show to play their collaborative “Righteous Chant.”
The crowd’s reciprocated adoration was manifest at one point when the musical legend asked, “Santa Barbara do you love reggae music?” only to be answered by an overwhelmingly enthusiastic “Yes!”
And by the time everyone started filing out the door at 1 a.m., drenched in sweat and with the reggae offbeats still bouncing in the back of your head like a click track, one thing had been made unmistakably clear: Don Carlos, Dub Vision, his friends, and the almighty Jah all love us.