Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Concert review: SOJA at The Green Elephant in Dallas (October 13)
The venue sold out of tickets and reached maximum capacity, creating refuge for 400 peace-seeking fans.
Walls vibrated and bass lines dropped hard last Tuesday night at The Green Elephant when reggae band Soldiers of Ja Army (SOJA) made their first appearance in the Lone Star State with special guests The Movement, Ugly Lion, and Dr. Dubbist. The venue sold out of tickets and reached maximum capacity, creating refuge for 400 peace-seeking fans.
Starting the evening was Dr. Dubbist, DJ Jacob Benenate from Austin. As the drummer for dub band Grimy Styles, Benenate spun his rendition of dub and soul music over chill and subtle techno beats. His song, “Tokyo Dub,” spliced a rickety synthesizer over tame guitar notes that were then complimented by notes on the keyboard modestly matched with the faint sound of popping bubbles.
Next to play was Ugly Lion, a local Dallas band comprised of lead singer and guitarist Brandon Chustz, bass player Kyle Atkinson, lead guitarist Mundo Zamora, drummer James Gottardi, keyboardist Mike McDonald, and saxophonist Kevin Simon. After actively playing several gigs this summer, this performance topped them all. They opened with “Burn One Spliff,” uniting the bar in a passionate cry for equality as lead Chustz chanted “Here the lions roar! We won’t suffer no more!”
After that, Ugly Lion slipped into a sexy beach reggae tune called “Roots Music,” which featured Simon as he wailed on the sax. It’s no joke when they say, “After a long day, you might find a little Ugly Lion will unwind your mind from the confines of Babylon.”
Even though they squished seven people onto about half of the stage area, they rocked out as if they were standing in an empty field. Dreds were flailing, bodies were bouncing and the crowd felt captivated spiritually with every note played. This show also carried intrinsic value for the members of the band.
“The difference between tonight and any other show is that I get to open up for my favorite band in the world, SOJA,” said Gottardi. “Absolutely the best show of the year for me.”
The Movement Vibe from the East Coast performed the third slot on the bill. Their set rung of trippy echoes and peppy sunny-day songs including “Set Sail,” the title track to their first album. “To the Moon and Back,” an edgy reggae tune with spunky electric guitar riffs, was another highlight of their set so crisp, a recording of the song would immediately take you to the front row before the stage.
By the time SOJA took the stage, The Green Elephant was jam packed with people. The sincerity of the band was immediately apparent when they offered their newest album, Born In Babylon, for any named price and then followed up with a never before played song. The performance of their latest single, “I Don’t Wanna Wait,” was soothing yet choppy, cutting the lines of music in short spurts by keys and the snare drum.
During the break down of “Never Ever,” horns ran ramped and guitar notes dipped into insanity as the crowd appeared contaminated with ecstasy; eyes closed, hands up, dancing and shaking, trying to let out the passion the music had put inside them. SOJA’s epic finale was “Here I Am,” an ingenious ballad weighing the differences between love and lust.
After the show, lead singer Jacob Hemphill was stoked about the turnout, saying he could feel the truth behind the music that evening.
“Reggae means universal peace. It’s all about the smiles, the laughter and just having a good time,” he said. “I was hoping the crowd was going to be like this and I was right.”
This article was submitted by a member of the Pegasus News community.