[Review] Rebelution and Friends Bring ‘Good Vibes’ to Florida

Good Vibes
Florida Summers and reggae music go hand in hand. With its stunning views from every angle and the cool beach breeze, the St. Augustine Amphitheatre is a fitting host to some of today’s top reggae artists. On July 30, Rebelution brought their “Good Vibes Summer Tour” to the amphitheatre, with special guests DJ Mackle, Hirie, Collie Buddz, and Nahko & Medicine For The People kicking off the show.

DJ Mackle
Photo cred: Photography-by-Pheonix-Gruneich

When I got there, Rebelution’s tour DJ, DJ Mackle, was just starting to throw down some tunes. His diverse music collection, which included everything from Hip Hop to House and Reggae, ensured the crowd was grooving before the first band even took the stage. In between each act, he came back out to ensure no one ever lost those good vibes. I thought this was a nice added touch and even seemed to help keep the drink and bathroom lines to a reasonable level.

Photo Cred: @gypsea_rebel

Right at 5:20, DJ Mackle exited stage left and HIRIE’s band members started to file in. I have to admit, I am a huge sucker for a horn section. My heart did a little leap as soon as I saw Chris Hampton (saxophone) and Andrew McKee (trombone) walk out with horns in hand. A few moments later, HIRIE herself came dancing out, with a huge welcome to the crowd. It amazes me how someone so petite can have so much energy. Her enthusiasm was contagious, ensuring the attendees were on their feet, singing and dancing, for the rest of the night.

Hirie’s family settled in Hawaii at a young age, exposing her to the reggae culture. She naturally took to it and embodies the popular reggae term “irie.” The interplay between her and the band radiated positivity and warmth, indicating to me that they could not have chosen a more fitting band name. Her silky, smooth voice blended perfectly with the band’s reggae, roots, and pop sounds, offering up their own rare sound.

photo cred: Snappin Necks Photography

Artists Ania Amador and Christopher Morphis, also known as anamorphosis, were a stellar addition to this show. I’ve seen live painting at quite a few festivals and I always enjoy watching the creations take shape. It’s really interesting to see the music interpreted through their paintbrushes.

Collie Buddz
photo from band’s Facebook page

With musical influences ranging from Hip Hop to Soca and Reggae, Collie Buddz brought something entirely different to the table. Buddz’s new album, “Good Life,” was released in May, and we were treated to most of the album’s songs throughout his set. He offered us the perfect mixture of funky reggae tracks and polished melodies, while the crowd waved their arms and danced in approval. By this time, the rain had retreated, leaving us with cooler weather and an understated, yet beautiful sunset.

Photo cred: Judea Runs Through

Next on the lineup was Nahko and Medicine for the People. Knowing what a loyal fan base Nahko has, I was really anxious to find out for myself what all the hype is about. He opened with “Directions,” a simple, yet beautifully powerful song that had the entire crowd swaying. Throughout their set, the band took us through a musical and spiritual journey that forced you to delve deep into your soul, drawing out emotions that had been locked away for years. Their mix of spoken word and reggae, with gospel undertones, prove how deeply diverse and unique they are as a band. Their message of spreading positivity was inspiring, serving as an instrument for healing.

After four opening acts, everyone was properly warmed up. The entire crowd broke out into a blistering scream as it was finally Rebelution’s turn to take the stage.

With six studio albums, these guys have an incredible library of hits to share with us. We were treated to hits such as “ Courage To Grow,” off the album of the same name. This inspirational song serves as a reminder to believe in your inner strengths and keep grinding always. It was evident that the crowd understood the message and were singing back with the same intensity as they were receiving.

photo cred: Snappin Necks Photography

This message, actually, seemed like an appropriate mantra for the evening as the crowd not only physically kept dancing and smiling, but emotionally, as well, kept grinding. It’s always interesting to observe the crowd at shows. They can speak volumes for the way in which an artist inspires them and has made an impact on their life. As a band I’ve personally only seen once before, I found myself intertwined in their vibe right away. I kicked off my shoes and started dancing about half way through their first song. It wasn’t as conscious as it was spontaneous. And, as I let the tunes move me, I noticed that random attendees would walk up and join in my one girl dance party. What a great feeling to be so enthralled with the music that dancing with complete strangers seems like the absolute right thing to do.

As the band played on, they hit a crowd favorite in “Good Vibes.” The title may be a little misleading, when examining the lyrics, as the good vibes are in juxtaposition to the condemnation of hate, prejudice, and violence present in society. It seemed particularly appropriate, given much of the tension felt around the world currently. At the same time, Rebelution laid out this rather deep, conscious message in a musically and rhythmically pleasing presentation. Grinding and smiling everywhere.

Let me loop back to another observation on the crowd for a minute. Diversity. That’s my word. Ages, sexes, ethnicities. All part of the Rebelution stew, and thats their magic. The other bands, as well. The fans care about what their ears hear and their hearts feel. It was truly a patchwork of faces in the crowd.
Heather and friends

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