The city of Santa Cruz is synonymous with one kind of music: reggae. So when chart-topping artist Tribal Seeds came to town for two shows this past weekend, there was no surprise that both were filled to capacity. Whether it was the cold beers or herbal remedies, fans crammed The Catalyst with positive vibes.
As the stage was set for Saturday’s sold-out show, Hawaii-based band The Steppas was stage left with their arms around each other, prepping for their set. When the lights dimmed and they took their marks, lead singer and guitarist Star appeared center stage. With dreads past his waist, he was the spitting image of a reggae front man. Starting off the show with a fusion of roots, rock and ska, the band’s energy seeped into the buzzing crowd, building anticipation for the night to come.
From one island to another, The Skints took the stage next. Known as “the torchbearers for modern British reggae,” the quartet hailing from London elicited shrills of excitement from the fans. Melding numerous styles including ska, punk rock, hip-hop and of course, reggae, the group showed that they had no shortage of musical ability. Front woman Marcia Richards stole the show by singing, playing multiple instruments, including the flute and melodica, and even rapping during the set. Vocalist and guitarist Josh Waters Rudge got the attention of the ladies in the crowd with his dashing looks, accent and rapping ability. Though their appearances were deceiving, it was clear with their performance why they were pioneering reggae music in Europe.
When the lights dimmed for headliner Tribal Seeds, the crowd responded with resounding approval. As they began playing one of their most popular songs, “The Garden,” everyone joined in for the opening lyrics. Staying true to the words, “come on and burn, put your two lungs to work,” smoke filled the venue. The hits kept coming as they segued into chart-topper “In Your Eyes” and “Away.”
In arguably one of the most entertaining moments of the whole show, multiple members let their hair down to participate in some serious dread banging. The small stage could hardly contain the six-man group as they continued with “Blood Clots” and “In Your Area” off of their 2014 release “Representing.” It was especially hard to take your eyes off of reggae pioneer E.N Young, who joined the band for the tour. With floor-length dreads and abounding energy, he refused to be confined to his keyboard and ran around the stage singing and playing his signature melodica.
Halfway through the show, the band showcased their versatility by giving guitarist Ryan Gonzo and keyboardist Tony-Ray, as well as Young, moments to shine as front men. Rudge and Star from the opening acts also joined the band on stage, with The Skints vocalist proving again that he can spit fire with an impressive rap solo.
Moving fluidly through hit after hit, they continued with “Vampire”, “Creator” and fan-favorite “The Harvest.” In true reggae style, they paid tribute to the great Bob Marley by playing “Is This Love,” much to the delight of the fans. To end the set, they went back to their roots with “Dark Angel” off their self-titled 2008 album.
Not much for the dramatic, Tribal Seeds barely made the crowd wait, returning to the stage quickly for an encore. They made the already apparent official when they played “Rock the Night,” encompassing what those in attendance had witnessed over the course of their set. Closing it out with one of their biggest hits “Love Psalm,” they went acoustic for the final lyrics of the song, giving the fans a chance to be heard. As they brought down the house with a sweet “jammin” session to finish the show, they ensured Marley would have approved. By the reaction of the fans, it was clear that they had.