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|John Brown's Body keeps the good vibes coming
By BRUCE HUTCHINGS
STATIC and FEEDBACK correspondent
After touring for 10 years, John Brown’s Body has built up a considerable following and reputation. Fans tend to
get hooked after one show or after hearing one album, and they never seem to disappoint. This was the case
again when JBB took the stage at the Roxy in Boston on February 23.
John Brown’s Body played their usual fun, uplifting roots reggae; an original sound that rests on a very strong
brass section that the whole audience feeds off of. They opened up with “Instrument,” from their latest album,
Spirits All Around Us, which got the mostly-college crowd to start jumping up and down to get the feel of how the
show was going to go. But it wasn’t until they played “33 RPM” that the crowd really started to get wild and feel
the music. And this was definitely brought to the attention of all the members of JBB – they were dancing along
with huge grins on their faces, slapping five with each other. This is one element that I look for in a live show: is
the band truly having fun up on stage? Sure enough, these guys were.
|JOHN BROWN'S BODY
What Go Do
Tree of Life
I had the lucky opportunity to talk to Alex Beram, trombone/bingy drummer
for JBB, before the show, and he mentioned that the band has seen
themselves move in a different music direction where they create diverse
and unique songs. “We try and get the people that come to our shows to
see a solid band that has played with some of the best names in music,”
said Alex. “We want them (audience) to have a nice time and feel moved.”
Even if the JBB didn’t play some crowd (and personal) favorites like
“Forward Always” and “Traveling Man,” the audience experienced the
singing aptitude of Elliot Martin in “Shadow” and a song that Chris “C-
Money” Welter seems to enjoy singing along with, “Dread.”
“We are pushing the envelope, we want to create original music and
create our own sound,” added Alex. They are hoping that their new album,
Pressure Points, coming out on Easy Star Records in April 2005, will carry
along that same message.
After a tidy one hour and 15 minute set with no encore, John Brown’s Body left the stage. A few members of the
crowd seemed disappointed that they left so “early.” As I was walking towards the bar, a girl came up to me and
stated, “that wasn’t long enough, at least they could have played one more.” But whatever the case, the crowd
still got a thrill out of the performance, as one individual yelled out, “Thanks for letting me dance to your music!”
Yes, it may have been short, but it was still a solid performance. Personally, I could have danced much longer,
but they were co-headlining with Sound Tribe Sector 9 so they had to share the stage.
As Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9) was getting ready, I spoke to my friend Sadler, from Keene, NH, about what to
expect from them. His quick response of “complete headyness” really didn’t help. What he could have easily
said which would have helped me comprehend would have been melodic, ambient sounds composed of your
basic instruments (drums, guitars, and keyboards) with accompaniment of computers.
The first song brought the whole crowd (which seemed to have grown since the middle of the JBB set) into a
little trance from the lightshow dance party that they created. I am not much of a aficionado of computer-oriented
music, but STS9 had some good qualities. They were certainly original and they were a lot of fun to move side-
to-side and shake your body to. But, the more STS9 played, it tended to have a little bit of a repetitive feel. To my
surprise, they took a little break and 20 minutes later they started their second set. This got me somewhat
annoyed because I had read and been told that the show was co-headlined, which gave me the idea that the two
bands would have played an equal amount of time.
But on the whole, STS9 could have dwindled down the two sets into one strong set. I preferred the second set
over the first just because it had less computer influences and more of jam/rock feel. My favorite tune of theirs
would have to be one of the latter ones, which my buddy and I thought had a “Miami Vice” flavor, turning into a
drum/percussion escapade, when Andrew Barr, the drummer from the Slip, joined in.
At the end of the night, I felt very pleased with what I had seen and experienced. In a perfect world, the dance
party of STS9 would have started the evening and John Brown’s Body would have closed where “we could have
kept the day from the night and danced a little longer and let our light shine brighter” with good vibes.
I love going to shows where I see familiar faces and see that the bands and the crowd are enjoying themselves,
as well as having the opportunity to talk to the musicians. The members of John Brown’s Body tend to walk
around the venue, where they’ll gladly stop to shake your hand and thank you for the support. To me, that is what
a high-quality show is all about, and John Brown’s Body does not fail. The three times that I have seen them, the
shows have been different but with only one common feature – “the positive message behind all the songs,” as
Nikki from Blackstone said. “We should all be listening to their music.” And that is what I, and hopefully some of
you out there, will do by checking out their catalog and their next show in the area. Everyone should experience
the good vibes!
Find out more about John Brown's Body at www.johnbrownsbody.com.