Tuesday, 05 June 2012 15:09
John Brown’s Body headlined an evening of reggae-derived music at Double Down Live Friday night with Danka and Cardboard Paradise.
Text and photos by John Davisson
Although I was unfamiliar with the three bands when I walked into the club, I enjoyed how they all had a different, modern take on reggae music.
Danka, from Jacksonville Beach, was more like the west coast surf-punk reggae bands that have been popular lately. The rhythms were rooted in reggae, but there was also an improvisational rock vibe that resulted in extended instrumental experimentation. There were also some electronic effects but mostly the noodling seemed blues-based. They could easily fit in to a jamband genre.
Cardboard Paradise is from Gainesville, supposedly named for their past working at a local pizza place (and they even had a song about folding pizza boxes). They ventured even further from traditional reggae, with an overall sound more like ska or dub that ventured into other disparate territories. With songs about pizza boxes and robots taking over the world (“Robox”), the lyrical irreverence matched the musical attention deficit disorder.
John Brown’s Body has seen a lot of personnel changes over the past 15 years (the first album was released in 1996), starting with a traditional reggae sound and moving into more experimental, electronic directions. I thought their show was more traditional than the other two acts on the bill. They had the reggae sound down, with the bass player using busy patterns to hold down with the steady drumbeat, while the guitarist focused mostly on steady rhythms. The keyboard player and horns added the melodic and textural colors while singer Elliot Martin added the vocal message and occasional percussion.
Their sound was very focused and rhythmic with extended instrumental passages fitting the grooves without distracting from their sound. Although the sound was good, I had some trouble getting the lyrical message, but it seemed to emulate traditional reggae. There were some instrumental parts, but they seemed to fit the reggae groove rather than attempting to incorporate a variety of other genres into the grooves.
It was a nice evening at the Double Down, checking out new reggae rhythms from three different interpretations of the future of the genre. Despite the differences, the reggae undercurrent was sure to make the fans of reggae happy.
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