Written By Brian Winters
To kick off the first night of fall, co-headliners Zach Deputy and Ballyhoo! took the stage at the Knitting Factory in Williamsburg, with support from Mighty Mystic and Bumpin' Uglies. The show featured a wide scope of musical flavors, featuring everything from Mighty Mystic's unique rock spin on roots reggae, Ballyhoo's surfer punk rock style, and a down-right funky performance from Zach Deputy.
Zach Deputy, Mighty Mystic, and Bumpin' Uglies have each released new albums in 2016, so there was a ton of new music to be heard inside the Knitting Factory walls. Bumpin' Uglies lead things off with a number of songs off of their September release Keep It Together. The reggae rock trio are a member of Ballyhoo!'s label Right Coast Records, and also share the same home state of Maryland. Bumpin' Uglies played a series of high energy songs like “Stop The Fall” and “Load In Load Out,” before bassist Dave Wolf and drummer TJ Haslett left the stage, allowing lead singer and guitarist Brandon Hardesty to sing a slow, stripped down song called “All That I Need.” The passionate song puts a positive spin on all of the struggles of trying to make it as a band.
Next, Mighty Mystic and his band, known as The Hard Roots Movement, took the stage by storm. By this point the room had filled in nicely, and Mighty Mystic seemed to feed off the crowd's energy immediately. Mystic, who is a Jamaican-born Boston-bred vocalist, began with “Rebels,” a track from his new album The Art Of Balance. Closely listening ears may have caught a nifty “SpottiOttieDopaliscious” tease from keyboardist Jens Swetting at the end of the song. Mighty Mystic spent much of the night on the lip of the stage singing or vibing out to the band behind him. Mighty Mystic, who performed at the Knitting Factory with Taj Weekes & Adowa earlier this year, was locked in with his band from the get-go. The addition of two female background singers added a great touch to his sound as well.
Mighty Mystic brought the crowd together to sing along with his medley of Bob Marley songs, which included “No Woman No Cry” and “One Love.” Then he capped off his set with two smokers-anthems: the slow, skanking track “High Grade” and his biggest hit “Cali Green.” Mystic's signature “hard roots” sound definitely captured the audience's attention, and served as a great warm up to Ballyhoo!.
Reggae rock veterans Ballyhoo! followed up with a solid mix of classics, as well as more recent material. The band is renowned for their ability to couple punk rock riffs with sun-kissed reggae verses. That was on full display throughout the evening. Ballyhoo! started with their 2015 single “Fast Times” before moving on to fan favorites such as “Somewhere Tropical,” “Cali Girl,” and “Struggle.” At one point during “The Fool,” Ballyhoo! smoothly belted out their best Lauryn Hill impression, singing the iconic hook from the Fugees 1996 hit “Ready Or Not.” The highlight of the set was during “Cerveza,” as the crowd began to jump up and down in synchrony with one another to the chorus.
Finally, Zach Deputy took the stage and absolutely cleaned up. Wearing white circular sunglasses and a beanie, Deputy sat down at his intricate rig of equipment and immediately broke into a funky jam called “Put It In The Boogie.” The crowd's dancing shoes were instantly activated. Deputy, an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist, is also seriously skilled at multi-tasking. He laid down his beats with a mix of beat-boxing and MPC boards, then hypnotized the Knitting Factory audience with his guitar skills. As a mastermind at looping and using foot pedals, Zach Deputy was able to create the sound of a 5-piece band completely by himself. There were a number of times where I was left wondering where sounds were coming from, or just exactly how Zach was making the noises coming through the amps.
Overall, the show was a diverse blend of sounds that somehow worked really well together. Each artist had support from their fans at the show, and it seemed as if everyone in attendance was there to see someone else, but ultimately it appeared everyone enjoyed the full spectrum of artists. On a side note, it was really cool to see each of the musicians staying and mixing in with the crowd after their performances to meet the fans and to enjoy the others artists on the bill.