Friday, July 21, 2017

Easy Star All Stars @ OC Great Park

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Posted by shore On September - 28 - 2009

esasirvine @AndyShore Well, it only took me two days to get my feet wet in the LA music scene. I had noticed a tweet about a free Easy Star All Star’s show on Saturday in Irvine, on our drive in from Grand Junction, CO on Thursday. You don’t usually have to tell me twice to sell me on free live music, but I was already looking for an excuse to see ESAS. I had to sit Summer Camp out this year with an ankle, and missed both their day set and the special late night Dub Side of the Moon set with members of Umphrey’s McGee. Taking the hour or so drive down to Irvine with my brother was a no brainer.

I was anxious to see how the live show would pan out, having heard mixed reviews. The three efforts possess so many guest artists, and deliver the music within the context of a full album. How would they integrate all three albums into one cohesive set?

The band members took the stage and left me wondering for a bit longer, as they began with two original tunes. Then began the familiar sounds of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Dub Band. I have to admit, it was a bit strange hearing the female Kirsty Rock on vocals for a Beatles song. As the title track segued into “With a Little Help From My Friends,” Menny More took the stage to showcase his DJ vocal wares. The animated More would spend much of the night hyping the crowd, high knee kicking and doing dances only @ZackTeibloom could have taught him.

A few more Beatles tunes were followed by another original song, to break things up a bit before delving into their Pink Floyd material. “Breathe” got the crowd back into sing-a-long mode and showcased the impressive harmonies of ESAS. It was during the Floyd material that I really began to appreciate the keys of Elenna Canlas. The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Radiohead all have complex studio work, which is often hard to recreate live. Canlas quite aptly filled the soundscape by keeping the songs familiar to the audience, while adding a reggae and dub flavor.

The Radiodread material is what I was least familiar with going into the concert. They were also probably my least favorite adaptations of the night. “Paranoid Android” sounded fine, but lacked the energy of the other band’s tributes. From there it was a little bit of everything all over again. My favorite take on the Beatles tribute disc was “When I’m 64,” and the dub breakdown was as good life as it is on the album.

The band returned for their encore, thanking the crowd for such positive vibes and explained that was all the UN needed for peace. They keep the good feelings going for “A Day in the Life” and “Karma Police.” During the latter, Kirsty Rock went into the crowd to sing the chorus. Her attempts to hop back onstage fell short, and she had to continue her next verse from among the fans on the dance floor. A perfect storm of beautiful weather, free tunes and a great venue made for a nice first Saturday night in California.

For more on the Easy Star All Stars, check out my interview with producer Michael Goldwasser.

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