Approaching the venue, the party bus had filled with a haze so thick you could barely see the person sitting across from you. Friends had gathered, the pre-game was ending, and the night was set to begin. Spotting the majestic looking entrance to Sound Wave ahead, spectators were drenched in a mixture of moonlight and spilled drinks. The song lyrics reverberated through the air…
“I CAME FROM AROUND THE WAY TO MAKE SURE THAT THE MUSIC GONNA SHOCK YOUR BRAIN IF YOU FEEL IT IN YOUR BACK JUST START TO SWAY GET DOWN WITH THE ROOTS-ROCK-REGGAE!”
The lyrics come from the band Passafire, which was the first of two headlining acts for the night. Welcomed with open arms by bands and fans alike to the famed Southern ‘Fornia reggae-rock scene, these boys from Savannah, GA know how to blow the top off a place and then some. The reggae-rock band Pepper signed them to their own independent LAW Records, and famously praised Passafire stating “They’re you’re favorite band’s favorite band.” Followed directly by Tomorrows Bad Seeds (TBS), together they hit San Diego with a musical that won’t soon be forgetten (even with the immense partying that ensued).
It doesn’t get any better than rolling down to the beach and blasting Passafire out your car windows for the world to hear… until receiving the opportunity to see them in concert. Playing the infamous Sound Wave venue, directly on the boardwalk in Mission Beach, their soulful tunes put the whole place in frenzy. I jumped around like a kid on caffeine throughout their whole set, most likely getting more of my drink on the floor and the girl in front of me than in my mouth.
The thing about Passafire is that they really stand out in the reggae-rock genre. Thousands of bands have had their take at this particular genre and blended new styles, but rarely does a band come along that distinguishes themselves this well. Passafire has seamlessly blended rock, metal, blues, funk, soul, electronica and even some acoustic bluegrass with a dub reggae backing. Will Kubley’s infectiously heavy bass lines stand out in nearly every song like a musical heartbeat, while his brother Nick’s tight drumming holds down the rhythm section. Completing the band are lead guitar player and singer Ted Bowne and keyboardist Adam Willis. Listening to the band’s unique arrangements lets you know that they’re extremely talented musicians. To demonstrate their diverse range of influences, one song named “Casting of the Cares” stands out. It’s got everything from ska to metal in there! One part in the guitar solo even reminded of something that Trey Anastasio of the band Phish might play. Low and behold, when meeting the band after the show, Passafire’s Ted Bowne looked right down at my Phish shirt as I shook his hand and said “Nice shirt man!”
After the awesomely energetic stage show and phenomenal musicianship the band displayed, they capped it by partying with their fans after. Chilling out by their merchant booth and handing away freebies, Passafire showed true dedication to their cause, as well as appreciation for the fans that make the musical living a possibility for them.
Shortly after Passafire left the stage, Tomorrows Bad Seeds amped up to go on. Hailing from the South Bay area of Los Angeles, they were the perfect finish for the night. Moi and Andre (singer and bassist) were hanging off to the side of the stage before the show. Having caught them before at The Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach and Winston’s Bar and Grill in Ocean Beach, they have perfected the formula to energize any crowd and truly rock the stage like stars.
Like Passafire, TBS really takes the reggae-rock genre and makes it their own. Adding an extremely energetic punk element to many of their tunes, they are masters of taking the crowd on a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs while keeping the party going the whole time. Always truly noteworthy of stage presence is previously mentioned Andre. He jumped and danced his way around every piece of open stage he could find, all the while keeping his bass lines spot on with their wild drummer Pat (who rocks some awesome heavy metal looking hair). Coupled with the excellent tonal range of Moi’s vocals and Sean and Mat’s dueling lead guitars, they didn’t leave a single person standing still in the venue.
Since the Sound Wave show Passafire and TBS have been touring up the state, gaining friends and fans in every town they play. Check these bands out and get a fresh taste of music! Concerts have always been one of the most fun things to do and as San Diegans we are extremely lucky to find ourselves exposed to a seemingly unlimited array of music and art. So jump in, discover something new and share it with your friends… the scene is waiting out there for you!