This review is dedicated to the memory of Billy Townsend, who’s love of music and life was unwavering.
St. Augustine Amphitheatre, 4:30 on July 22nd, a Thursday afternoon. The lineup is stacked, with The Movement, J. Boog, Iration, and Slightly Stoopid on deck – and I’m seeing all of them for the first time! For such an early show, I didn’t know what to expect, crowd-wise. When we arrived, though, many of the parking spots were already filled, and the feeling of anticipation and excitement was palpable.
Summer in Florida is the season for being outdoors, listening to reggae, and sipping on a cold beverage. The St. Augustine Amphitheatre delivered us a healthy dose of all three. Its breezy beach air made it the perfect setting for equally breezy and beachy sounds. Almost like the scent of the surf in the air, the sounds flowed and carried through the trees, as I got closer to the amphitheatre.
The first band, The Movement, relied on their depth of albums, currently eight, to please longtime fans and new converts alike. All were swaying together in the pit. The 5-piece had great interplay in their instrumentation and looked completely comfortable together on stage. There was definitely a buzz about them throughout the evening and it was easy to hear and see why.
Next up was J. Boog (Jerry Afemata). I was waiting in line for a beer when he stepped onstage. Immediately, those waiting out the music break headed back, with everyone scrambling to get to their seats as quickly as possible. Obviously, this act was heavily anticipated. J. Boog grew up in Compton, CA, in a tight-knit Samoan community. Polynesian music and Bob Marley filled the air in his neighborhood, and you definitely hear the musical influences in his work. In addition to having a powerful and captivating voice, his band’s authentic and energetic style really got the crowd involved. By the end of their set, J Boog and co. were sweaty and smiling, just like the majority of the crowd.
photo via Facebook
Iration was the third in line and many in the crowd mentioned that this was as much of their reason for being there than any of the other bands. The band started off their show with a bass frequency that was so loud and intense I could actually feel and hear the air moving around me. Iration played a healthy mix of songs spanning their entire discography and threw in some covers for good measure. Their motto is: “We’re all about luv” and their set was a great indication of the love they have to share. While the crowd was grooving from beginning to end, they got those last few straggling sitters up onto their feet and dancing when they busted into one of my all-time favorite songs, “Here I Am (Come and Take Me)” by Al Green. They kept the crowd going, through UB40’s “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” ending with their own song, “Time Bomb.”
photo via Facebook
After a buildup like that, the crowd was properly revved and ready for more. The evening’s headliner, Slightly Stoopid, delivered deep grooves right out of the gate. With more than twenty years together and eight albums, they had plenty of material to move our souls throughout the night. I’m a total sucker for horns and their powerful horn section helped lead the crowd on a two-hour dance party. The multiple layers of instruments were perfectly woven together, taking us on the rise and fall wave of reggae-inspired jams that kept the crowd begging for more, even well after the lights came up.
photo via Facebook
One of the feelings I got throughout the night was one of unity and friendship. Iration’s motto happens to be “We’re all about luv,” and it couldn’t be more fitting. It also happened to be the perfect setting for some close friends and myself to mourn the passing of a friend, but also celebrate his life, through the music he loved. Every age group and ethnicity was represented, and everyone was there for one common purpose – to share their love of music.