This past week saw an amazing lineup for reggae music at Webster Hall. Iration was touring for their new album Hotting Up and brought along Hirie, The Expanders and DJ Amp Live. This line up made for a solid night of reggae. With different sounds coming from each band, a true treat was in store for the fans in attendance.
DJ Amp Live kicked off the night with some great reggae mashups. Putting unique tracks together over reggae riddims. In addition to the DJ kick off, Selena Zontos, from Skavenge Art was in attendance. Through the entire performance she painted a beautiful piece of a lotus flower and sun. It is always nice to see artists bring together multiple forms of art and music in one space for everyone to enjoy and share.
Having just recently been turned onto The Expanders I was excited to see their opening set. They play what I would call traditional ‘Rockers’ reggae, harking back to the 45s of the late sixties and early seventies. The band put on an amazing set, working through tracks off their latest album Hustling Culture. Songs like ‘Uptown Set’ and classic reggae covers including their version of ‘Graduation In Zion’ originally by Kiddus I made me feel like I was in a Jamaican dance. The crowd was in agreement and the dancing kicked off.
‘Top Shelf’, a song dedicated to the farmers of California made me miss my home on the West Coast. As their set rounded out Chiquis Lozoya their bassist, took the mic to lead fans through a great rendition of ‘Sensi Addict’. The band then took a moment at the end of their set to give props to NYC. Much like their home of L.A. NYC is a place of where we fight against racism, sexism and homophobia. They wanted the fans to remember that and be proud of the equality and love for all that reggae music stands for. Giving respect to the bands that came before them, this band has earned a place on my permanent playlist for their amazing music and their knowledge and respect for reggae culture.
When Hirie hits that stage you know it. Traveling with a large band and an amazing horn section, her set brought a renewed energy to the stage. Starting the set with the song ‘Renegade’ from soon coming her new album Wandering Soul and then moving into ‘Wiseman’ of her self-title debut album. Her performance gave me flashbacks of early No Doubt with massive energy, amazing vocals and the Ska horns to top it all off. Hirie is something new though, you can see the influences of many different reggae styles from Dancehall to Tanya Stevens there as well.
Having fun with the audience Hirie threw in a cover of ‘No Scrubs’ as well as putting down the guitar to play the Melodica, a small handheld keyboard played like a recorder. My favorite part of the set had to be when she launched into an amazing medley of roots reggae including ‘5446’, ‘Night Nurse’ and ‘Stepping Out’. Her renditions of these classic tracks made for a beautiful set mix with her original songs. Hirie ended her set with ‘Sensi Boy’ the best selling single off her debut album. With a new album almost out and fans singing along with every word, this will be a reggae band to follow. I can’t wait to hear the new album.
Webster Hall is a large venue and was packed by the time Iration was ready to hit the stage. Those with VIP passes had moved to the balcony, filling it, as the general public squeezed in to every open space on the dance floor. As soon as the first chord was struck, Iration’s presence was felt. Their sound was massive, seeming almost turned up a notch or two from the opening acts. Behind them was an intricate light set with multiple columns that flashed sets of lights up and down them.
They kicked off their set with ‘Turn Around’ and the fans sang every word. Bass player Adam Taylor was repping San Francisco with a San Franpsycho t-shirt and lead singer Micah Pueschel had a little fun with the crowd, saying that they weren’t going to talk much, so they could play more music, so “drink up and smoke up” and “don’t worry we told security to be cool and chill out”. These comments set a playful and fun vibe for the rest of the show as smoke filled the air and the fans rocked to songs of the album Hotting Up.
As they played the song ‘Electricity’ massive green lights lit up behind the band. With the venue now rather smoker, they shined across the entire venue like lasers. This made for a beautiful light show to enhance that already top shelf music set. ‘Summer Nights’ and ‘Midnight’ had the crowd singing and dancing, while the bands newest member Micah Brown took an epic guitar solo on the song ‘Lost And Found’.
On this Hotting Up Tour, Iration showed what a great reggae concert can be. A ensemble of different bands with different sounds, coming together to make for an unforgettable night. We can’t to see them next time they are in town.