Date: Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
Line up: Katchafire, Common Kings, The Driftaways
Location: The Firebird. Sant Louis, MO
On Wednesday night, the Firebird welcomed New Zealand’s Katchafire to Saint Louis for a night of reggae and roots music. The eight-piece group is currently en route to the West Coast in the first half of their yearly American tour. Musicians and fans had gathered to experience Katchafire’s first show in Saint Louis, and as Juan Rios of the Common Kings put it, “The firebird goes off!”
I could hear bass resonating from the entrance as I parked my car. I walked in to find the Driftaways from Columbia, Illinois on stage. People had pocketed all but two of their demos, which were once gracefully spread over the front edge of the stage. They performed many freshly- recorded songs from the demo, which I was told may be the foundation for their full-length debut album to come out in June or July.
I asked Kevin Krauss, drummer for The Driftaways how they got the gig with Katchafire that night. He told me of the fair selection methods that the firebird uses in booking local bands. This inevitably led the band to a catch 22; they had to decide between performing with Katchafire, or Tribal Seeds and Fortunate Youth a few weeks ago: “it was a tough decision, but I think we made the right one”.
As The Driftaways concluded, people amassed to the fresh weather outside. In the process, we stumbled upon the Gan Jah records crew. Josh Heinrichs, SkillinJah, and Lance Sitton had all trekked from Springfield, MO to catch one of New Zealand’s finest. Heinrich’s said he had a lot of love for them; he was happy to meet singer Hani Totorewa, who collaborated with him on the 2010 release ofJosh Heinrich’s and Friends.
Social media sources indicated that Wednesday was a two-band performance. However, not too many were upset when the Common Kings introduced multiple different singers. K’Nova performed a few milder reggae songs, until JR King took over. After a quick reggae mix of a Jay-Z’s N***** In Paris, The Common Kings broke into two strings of cover songs. The first string included classics from Bob Marley and Michael Jackson, and with his siblings in Jackson 5. However, during the second string of modern pop songs I noticed a few blank faces. As one fan told me, “I came here to get away from Adele.” The Common Kings of OC closed with a medley of Maroon Five, Adele, LMFAO, and Wiz Khalifa remixes to the dismay of some, while many others continued to magnetize towards the stage.
When I asked singer and guitarist Logan Bell why Katchafire chose to stop in Saint Louis of all places, he responded, “rather be at a gig than sitting at a hotel, right?” With that, Katchafire made a near-two hour set seem like a cake walk. Their set list seemed like a greatest hits album, spanning fittingly across their four studio albums. The crowd sat in darkness until Katchafire opened with On The Road Again. It wasn’t five minutes before a familiar aroma extended its grasp on the audience.
Singer Jamey Ferguson, sporting a black bandana and tinted sunglasses switched back and forth between the sax, microphone, and keyboards throughout the night. After their 2008 single Love Letter, Ferguson veered into a frantic solo on his saxophone. A streak of songs from their albums Revival and Slow Burning ensued. To no one’s dismay, the set list mirrored in my opinion the best of their four albums. They performed Serious and a crowd favorite, Groove Again from their 2010 album while visiting each of their past albums with profundity.
Katchafire too, performed their rendition of a Bob Marley classic, Three Little Birds. Katchafire’s supposed last song was the upbeat favorite from “Revival, Done Did It”. The Common Kings raided Katchafire’s stage as a string of percussion solos rang off. It was near 1AM when the Firebird’s playlist turned on. However, the crowd refused to leave nor was Katchafire ready to retire to their downtown hotel for the night. Phone cameras were lighting up the stage as Katchafire geared up for one last jam, Sensimillia.
Over the course of the night, I recognized three distinct all star performers; the musicians with the best dance moves. The Driftaways trombonist and utility man showed the most energy during a single set, while Common King’s bassist Ivan Kirimaua had a consistent dance going throughout much of his own and Katchafire’s performance. Katchafire’s Logan Bell even boasted some sort of duck walk variation during a dub jam on the guitar.
What I speculated would end at 11PM, went on until well past `1 in the morning. Nevertheless Katchafire, Common Kings, and The Driftaways made for one hell of a hump day celebration in Saint Louis to kick off the spring season!
Katchafire Set List:
On The Road Again
You Are Dreaming
Frisk Me Down
Who You With
Meant To Be
Close your Eyes
Collie Herb Man
Colour Me Life
Three Little Birds (Bob Marley Cover)
Done Did it
Article By: Matt Emodi
Photos By: Tony Barcinas
MORE PICTURES FROM THE NIGHT….