Date: August 16th, 18th, 19th 2012
Line up: Rebelution, The Expendables, Passafire
Location: Jannus Live. St. Petersburg, FL / Cocoa Riverfront Park. Cocoa, FL / St. Augustine Amphitheater. St. Augustine, FL
What a Summer!..Long awaited record releases, and huge collaborative tours made the Summer of 2012, the “Summer for the Fans.” To end the season on a high note, The Pier was fortunate enough to be granted access into the best party of the summer series, Rebelution’s Florida Tour! For this special run, three of the most influential reggae-rock groups gathered together, and tore-up the coast of Florida!
With the uniquely-progressive reggae-rock of Passafire, to sounds of The Expendables’ cult classics, to the beloved modern reggae of Rebelution, it should be no surprise that the Florida Tour brought the fans out in droves! We knew these concerts would be pretty popular, but even The Pier didn’t expect to see the amount of love and support that was shown at these shows!
Luckily The Pier was able to cover three of the four dates in Florida. Playing at very different amphitheaters, we were able to watch the shows from the pit, up above, and from the wings, catching all the action! As we wandered around, I noticed that the variation in venues lead to a difference in each crowd. Every show was all-ages, however the various concentration of ages made for noticeable differences in moods and performances.
The St. Pete show was almost more of a club scene, packed shoulder to shoulder. The Cocoa show had the vibes of a festival. Situated in a large park off the river, the crowd of 3300 included basically a ton of everyone from all walks of life. Then there’s the ultra professional St. Augustine Amphitheater, a fancy seated venue, that makes a 4000 person venue feel like an intimate bar.
Starting off the weekend in proper form, the fan proclaimed reggae-rock “dream line-up” converged on St. Pete for a sold out, Thursday night performance! When a show has three bands that could easily headline a two hour set, the only dilemma is set time length. Fans would happily watch each band play for hours, however, there is only enough time for a short sampling, before the despised sound ordinance enacts.
Without any hesitation, at 7:00, Passafire struck the first chord of the tour. Supporting their award winning album, Start From Scratch, Passafire took the opportunity to play around the record, treating fans to different tracks off the album each night. As always the Passafire Army was out in full force, and the band mixed it up well for the die-hards, laying into their beloved discography.
Starting the set with Everyone on Every Night’s Passafire played ten songs in a perfectly timed 40 minute set & didn’t stop, until the last note of “Start From Scratch” hit the back of the packed house! Passafire was just the start of a killer show & weekend.
Standing on the balcony overlooking the crowd watch Passafire, I couldn’t help but think about how much this music scene has grown over the years. Usually, there is only a handful of attendees who catch the opening act. On Thursday night, the venue, with a capacity of 2000, was three quarters full!
As I stood up there, I also noticed, down along the railing to my left, was every member of Rebelution, and The Expendables, all fixated on Passafire! This second example of the unyielding support shown on this tour, is a beautiful “full circle” moment. Now, known as the “fans’ band,” the Savannah quartet started out playing small bars with Rebelution, and The Expendables years ago. Now, whether on a big stage or small, everyone watches Passafire play.
Walking out, each night, to overbearing screams, The Expendables quickly commanded the stage with their up-tempo, heavier edge on reggae-rock. The Expendables have the ability to instantly whip up the crowd. While plugging in his axe, and screaming “Are you guys ready to get weird with us” Geoff kicked it off with the infamous “Down Down Down” intro progression.
Geoff Weers, has to be one of the most prolific front men around. Constantly pumping up the crowd with commands like “I want everyone to put their hands in the air and make some f-in’ noise,” no one is better at working a crowd, then Geoff!
The Expendables wasted no time, continually playing songs, back to back for an hour. Using this mini tour as a means of promotion, the band was sure to tell the thousands of fans about their upcoming Fall tour with Iration.
The Expendables also took the opportunity to test out new material on the captive audience! Halfway through the set they played “Music Moves Me” for the first time on tour! The catchy new track, consists of a driving bass line and mellow lyrics fans are sure to love. Talking with The Expendables lead guitarist, Raul Bianchi, he informed The Pier that “Music Moves Me” is one of five or six new songs the band has on the books…We are currently building a personal studio and want to release new material sometime next year!”
New music wasn’t the only highlight of The Expendables’ set. For the last two shows, the band brought out Mike Deguzman, of Passafire, to play keys on “Ganja Smugglin’!” Between sets one night, we got a chance to catch up with Mike and get his thoughts on the performance.
Mike told The Pier, “I am honored to play on the same line-up, let alone play a song with them… It’s just crazy because The Expendables were the ones who took a chance on me, they brought me up to play on stage after hearing the Youtube cover, and now I’m here playing with Passafire, on a bill with The Expendables and Rebelution!”
As I walked around the venues during DJ Rude Boy Craig’s bumping interlude sets, I was able to hang out with a variety of fans. Some local, some from afar, all in attendance for the reggae music! Rattling off song after song, the fans were eager to discuss what they heard and the tracks they hope to hear. I spoke with a lot of very cool fans, but I believe Spencer of Jax Beach summed up what every said the best, “As a musician, these bands are my inspiration, I love the music!”
These vibes of inspiration and love exploded into the humid Florida air, as soon as Rebelution took center stage. When they walked out, and the fog lights lit up the screaming crowd, it was amazing to see how much this music scene has grown since this band first starting touring. I remember when Rebelution first came through Florida, introducing the east coast to the catchy harmonies of Courage to Grow. Eric Had long hair and the group was less animated. It was early in the bands career and the sound was more raw, but it was apparent the band was going far.
Fast forward to today, Rebelution continues to scratch accomplishments off the list. Playing both the Allman Brother’s Peach Festival in PA, and the huge Outside Lands Festival in CA, on the same weekend, Rebelution had little rest before their first headlining amphitheater tour.
In front of thousands of adoring fans, Rebelution showcased their famous Southern California sound, playing a mix of 20 or so songs off their three brilliant records. Starting with their “Gangster Beat Intro” Rebelution played for an hour and a half, with a nice mix of old and new tunes. The group kept the set lively and fresh by adding in cleaver intros, and instrumentals, to songs memorized be a majority of the fans.
The addition of New Orleans’ saxophone player Khris Royal, has really taken Rebelution to higher grounds. Khris is a multi-instrumentalist. In addition to the sax, Khris plays the electronic clarinet, sings backup vocals, and chimes in on auxiliary percussion pieces like the vibraslap, and temple-block. It is these effects that fill out the band’s immense sound.
Rebelution has had one of the largest impact on reggae-rock music, bringing the genre into a new light. The creative use of a guitar, coupled with insightful lyrics, enables a modern reggae sound that easily appeals to a mass amount of fans. If Rebelution stays on the road that they’ve been flying down, there is no question that they will continue to help move the genre closer to mainstream appeal!
Now traveling with a beautiful light show, a Rebelution performance is one not to miss. If this Florida tour was any indication of what fans can expect on their upcoming Fall tour with Passafire and
Through The Roots, then get your tickets as soon as possible!
Rebelution Set List:
Gangster Beat Intro
Sky Is The Limit
Closer I Get
Bright Side Of Life
Safe and Sound
Pulsey Jam Interlude
Green To Black
Lady In White
The Expendables Set List:
Down Down Down
How Many Times
Get What I Need
Let Her Go
Music Move Me
One Night Stand
Bowl For Two.
Passafire Set List:
Shapes And Colors
Hard To Believe
Start From Scratch
Kiss My Head
Article By: Aaron Solomon
Photo By: Peter Monti
More Photos From The Night…