Written By: Brian Winters
All the way from San Diego, CA, Through The Roots brought their high-energy brand of reggae rock to midtown's American Beauty during a stop on their Bloodshot Eyes Fall Tour. Through The Roots was joined by Sun-Dried Vibes, a trio out of South Carolina, and local favorites CC Roots.
CC Roots, formerly Cecilia Celeste, began the night with a hybrid clash of reggae, progressive rock, and blues. Despite their name, the Jersey City based group is as much a jam band as they are a roots band. The six-piece band had a killer rhythm section, a pair of impressive guitarist, and a jack-of-all trades musician playing everything from harmonica to trumpet. Paying homage to both Peter Tosh and Chuck Berry, CC Roots closed out their opening set by playing a tight rendition of “Johnny B. Goode.”
Next, Sun-Dried Vibes took the stage and delivered a huge sound with just a guitar, bass, and drum-kit. Lead singer Zach Fowler's voice was outstanding, every line ringing out loud and crisp. Quite far from their hometown of Fort Mill, SC, Sun-Dried Vibes had a small, but devout group of fans hanging on to every word. Sun-Dried Vibes set consisted mainly of songs from their 2014 album Back2Square1, including “Nugg It,” “Irie Vibes,” and “Young One,” but the track “Trouble” off their debut album Give Thanks (2011) was a definite highlight. Sun-Dried Vibes have been steadily gaining hype as one of the top emerging reggae rock acts on the East Coast, and they definitely lived up to expectation.
This past week we heard the Skatalites would be in town and we lined up for tickets. For anyone who has not seen their show, they put on an amazing set and there is no way to listen to them without dancing. Once it hits, you are hooked.
We set out for a new venue, American Beauty. This is a great new spot, which has been hosting lots of good reggae music recently. It’s a small bar with a venue in the back, which holds about 300, making it a great place to see a show, intimate enough that there are no bad “seats”, but large enough that you still get the energy of the crowd. With $20 show tickets, a reasonably priced and decently curated bar, plus free pizza with every drink, American Beauty can’t be missed anyone looking for a genuine NYC night out on a budget.
The music kicked off with The Pandemics, a local 8 piece Ska band. They refer to themselves as a Ska Army with one goal, to spread their infectious brand of NY Ska Punk to the masses until skanking in the streets causes a mass hysteria. Which is exactly what they did. With a mix of their own works and some amazing covers they had the crowd jumping and jiving. Their dual trumpet players seemed to taunt one another as they revved up the crowd through song after song. You can see photos and video of their performance below. The next time you see them on a billing in NYC you better check it out, or you’ll suffer Pandemic.