An evolution of Reggae

Officially scheduled to play only once during Fuji Rock 2016, this was actually Reggaelation Independance’s second time performing at the Palace stage this year. Their first performance came one night earlier, playing with Korean reggae unit, NST & the Soul Sauce. The Saturday night jam was a tribute to the late reggae/ska legend Rico Rodoriguez. Reggaelation Independance has been playing together since 2008 and had actually previously opened for Rodoriguez in 2011. The Korean group also pays tribute to Rico on their recent album, including a picture of him on their album art. Being a big fan of Rico, Island Records and The Specials, the Saturday collaboration/tribute was a wonder. The bar was set maybe a bit unfairly high for Reggaelation’s Sunday night set.

This 11-member group isn’t pure reggae, but a mixture of African/Carribean/Jamacian influences. Their sound is in a sense, as a friend of mine described them, an evolution or post-rock version of reggae. This could be because of the band’s instrumental sound that doesn’t necessarily fit with conceptions of reggae. Similarly, the use of guitars, including guitar solos, the bands willingness to jam for extended periods of time and go on tangents fits in the post-rock framework.

I wasn’t quite prepared for this style, as I was expecting something more in line with the previous night’s ska/reggae jamoff. It wasn’t bad, but I’m naturally drawn more to the ska/reggae style and when a group’s name has reggae in it, there are certain expectations.

Reggaelation Independance’s 45 minute set seemed to breeze by as one song blended into another. The group gave some solo time to multiple members throughout, exploring their range of styles. Hand drums worked through Caribbean rhythms, then their guitarist worked through a few bluesy expressions. The most memorable moments for me were when they returned to the ska and reggae style of their namesake. Their trombone player Saito Tetsufumi in particular was a delight. With his bold, loopy style and infectious groove it got the whole of the Palace moving.

So while their set wasn’t the pure ska/reggae celebration perhaps I was hoping for, their set didn’t disappoint and kept energy high for the final night in the Palace of Wonder.

Text by James Mallion Posted on 2016.7.26 18:40