Date: Saturday, February 25th, 2012
Line up: SOJA (Acoustic In-Store Performance)
Location: Independent Records-Record Store. Denver, CO
Record stores use to be the main resource and outlet for all your music needs and information. From the latest albums, to hidden gems or the always popular in store performance and record signing from your favorite artists. Independent Records is your old fashion independent record store located next to the infamous Ogden Theatre in Denver, CO. Housing all of the elements & familiar symptoms of an old fashion record store, the place was huge and held a variety of everything from band t-shirts, stickers, flags, DVD’s, VHS to cassette tapes for $1.99. Not to mention a FREE in-store performance & record signing courtesy of SOJA!
Upon heading up to the record store, I was a couple blocks away when I ran into SOJA bassist/vocalist Bobby Lee who was heading in the opposite direction. After a quick hello, he said he was headed downtown to the 16th Street Mall to pick up new shoes. He told me lead vocalist/guitarist Jacob Hemphill and new guitarist Trevor Young would be performing acoustic in about 20minutes.
Walking in with Pier Photo-Journalist, Kit Chalberg, we had the agenda of not only capturing the event, but to take pictures of Jacob Hemphill with fans during the autograph signing and grabbing fans information to send them their own personal encounter & signing with Jacob Hemphill of SOJA. As fans, its one thing to have a signature, but it’s another to have a professional timeless photo of the encounter and thanks to SOJA’s management, The Pier was able to contribute.
Fans were surprised by the selection of music inside the record store. One fan held up one of Matisyahu’s CDs, shocked that it was only $4.00. While we’re not complaining about the digital market, you can’t help but appreciate what you can stumble upon inside your old fashion record store. If you think about it, folks rip their old CDs to their computer and trade their CDs in and its at a Record Store you may stumble across something rare or limited in it’s production. If it’s not rare or limited, it may be a lot cheaper than buying and downloading the digital copy. Plus, you shouldn’t always deprive yourself of the old fashion record store experience of browsing aimlessly at music in its physical form.
As Jacob & Trevor reached the stage close to 3:15pm, there were about 100 fans piled in anxious to see an acoustic rendering of SOJA inside an intimate setting. No Coast TV was on hand with their cameras filming the days happenings. From the fans spilling into the store, to the performance & autograph signing, SOJA has plans to release a DVD or video of some sort as No Coast TV would be following the group to the show later on in the night at The Ogden Theatre. SOJA was set to headline The Ogden with The Movement, Anuhea & Dubskin opening up.
While getting settled on stage in the midst of an anxious silence, 1 appreciate fan broke the ice by yelling out ”Thank you for doing this!” as the rest of the crowd soon echoed her sentiment. Jacob greeted her with his Glad to be here before introducing the crowd to their new guitarist, Trevor Young, who previously held the position as the groups guitar technician while on tour. Originally from Delaware, Trevor Young provided rhythm guitar and back up vocals for the FREE performance.
In total, they performed 4 songs that included ”Strength To Survive”, “Mentality”, “Everything Changes” and ”When We Were Younger”. Jacob discussed the songs at length, providing the depth & rich influence behind each track and it’s message. Jacob wanted to convey that SOJA’s mentality is to have a Mentality. To change the ways we consume and to think about our impact on the world. If we’re able to change our mentality, our perception & approach can change as well. Discussed that there isn’t one person that is more important over the other. We’re all equal. It was an appropriate introduction to the acoustic rendering of ”Mentality”.
Jacob went on to talk about Everything Changes and how it was the first song they wrote that got the album started in its direction and overall theme. He wrote the song in about 20minutes and consumed 9pages of writing, when most songs of his take about 4-5pages. He admitted he writes songs fast, while hes hot on the topic.
SOJA has been around for quite awhile and it all started with Jacob Hemphill & Bobby Lee. Jacob described how they grew up together and did everything together (except for football). Said they choose roots style of reggae to pursue in music after being a one time Wu-Tang duo for a grade school talent show. The connection he said has just grown from middle school, high school, college onto their now professionally evolving career in reggae-rock music.
Jacob Hemphill begin to talk more about Reggae-Rock music before playing When We Were Younger. He said fans think it’s pop because its not necessarily reggae. He laughed off how in the Reggae-Rock community, fans can get testy in believing you’re on the verge of selling out or going pop if you write a song outside of the genre. ”People love judging other people in the reggae scene” he said. A lot of people think the perception of reggae music is that it’s just a gimmick, but it’s not; it’s actually an evolving movement with a growing following as his experience has provided and as much of us fans can relate.
He started laughing when saying that they usually play “When We Were Younger” last on their set-list at live shows. Because the song isn’t reggae, they’ll notice fans leaving during the song. So they decided to make the 3rd verse of the song, Reggae, as a joke to watch the fans in the audience turn back around once they hear the shift in sound. Then once fans start to make their way back to the stage, SOJA will switch back to the original non-reggae elements of the song. He was red in the face with laughter telling the story and fans were eating up every word.
As a treat, they performed what they called an Ultra Special Edition of ”When We Were Younger” by playing an all reggae rendering of the song. I doubt anyone would have left early if they played the “pop” version, but the fans were just as excited to have their own private version played for FREE.
As promised, after the performance, Jacob signed CDs, Vinyls, Posters & took pictures with all 100 fans, one group at a time. Nothing like being inside an old fashion record store, taking witness to a classic in-store performance before having your new album signed by the artist.
To re-iterate the appreciative fan’s sentiment earlier, The Pier would like to again say THANK YOU FOR DOING THIS to both SOJA & Independent Records in Denver, CO. If your in town, check out the record store and pick up SOJA’s new album Strength To Survive
Article By: Mike Patti
Phot By: Kit Chalberg
-Read Kit Chalberg’s Concert Article w/Photos from later on in the night when SOJA played with The Movement & Anuhea at The Ogden Theatre. You can read the article by clicking HERE