Each of the bands brought a unique spin to reggae music. The night kicked off with the harmonizing male & female vocals of “I Yahn I Arkkestra”, who hail from the Philadelphia area. These cats definitely got the party started. Always show up for the opening bands, especially if you don’t know who they are. We spoke with them after their set and they were fun loving folks who enjoy music, nature, free spirits, & spending time in the Philadelphia region, where city life and nature are all accessible (not to mention close to surfing at the Delaware beaches). They’ll be playing again locally at The Legendary Dobbs coming up on June 11th.
Next up was Innasense. Believe us when we tell you that keyboard player/lead-singer Jimi Dred’s voice was made for reggae music. Seriously, he might be a robot from planet Rastafari, sent to earth to infect us all with his perfect pitch and smooth grooves. Vibert Chang, the other lead-vocalist, adds hype and energy to the mix (think Beanie Man). Add in the drums, guitar, and bass and it’s time to party. Chang even ventured into the audience once or twice to dance with fans while still rocking the mic. They’ll be playing 19 shows this summer in OCMD so if you are heading to the beach this summer, be sure to check them out reggae fans!
The Blockley continued to fill up nicely as the evening progressed and by the time the headliners took the stage, the place was full of fans. The bands were even kind enough to provide concert patrons with a free hot food buffet which we enjoyed between sets (the chicken was out of this world good).
John Brown’s Body was no joke. We’d heard this Boston-based eight piece band was good (their last album debuted at #1 on the Billboard reggae charts for a reason) but they were even better than we’d expected. Let’s just get it out there once and for all, we dig brass sections here at Independent Philly. Glad we got that out there.
The sax, trombone, and trumpet really set the tone for the band but that’s just the beginning. The lead vocals of Elliot Martin are stellar and clear, the drum beats are crisp, the keys sparkling, and the guitar & bass cool & funky. They infuse elements of dance-hall, drum & bass, hip-hop, and rock into their music, keeping the sound fresh and progressive. The band mentioned they don’t often play in Philadelphia and we think that’s a shame. We hope to see them back in our city soon!
The night wrapped up sometime after 1am after several hours of great music, tasty food, good people, roots, rock, and reggae.
Full photo gallery: