Since introducing the world to the Good Vibes Summer Tour in 2013, Rebelution and its famed group of handpicked supporting acts have defined what a summer reggae concert should exude, within the North American music circuit. Revered as one of the greatest live acts within its genre, Rebelution’s on-tour cohorts have been known to breathe life into this reputation as well.
On June 21, the Good Vibes Summer Tour kept the tradition alive as it brought a sultry string of performances from Jamaica’s beloved Protoje and Indiana’s soulful Durand Jones and The Indications to Sacramento’s Papa Murphy’s Park.
For those who arrived before the sun began to set, Durand Jones and The Indications made sure their first performance in Sacramento was one to remember. Together, lead vocalist Durand Jones, drummer and vocalist Aaron Frazer, guitarist Blake Rhein, bassist Kyle Houpt, and keyboardist Steve Okonski, courted the audience like few bands are able to do.
Rolling between their breakout self-titled debut album and this year’s ‘American Love Call,’ tracks such as “Morning in America,” “Sea Gets Hotter” and “Can’t Keep My Cool,” had the audience stirring with ease. Despite, or perhaps in cahoots with, the summer heat, Jones and The Indications radiated the type of passion Charles Bradley’s soulful voice once howled. With a funky rendition of The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down,” the band woke the few straggling fans up, while fan-favorite “Is It Any Wonder?” made sure the good vibes were as high as Frazer’s falsetto.
Near the end of the set, Jones would shout “I love you! I love you! I love you!” into the crowd, before asking, “can you feel the music in the air?” — Of course.
By the time Grammy Award-nominated Protoje made his way to the stage, Papa Murphy’s Park was cooling down and filling up quick. With the storied reggae artist backed by a full band, including two backup vocalists, his signature tunes “Sudden Flight,” “Kingston Be Wise” and “Who Knows” had fans in full rhythm for his performance. However, when he polled the audience to see who had seen him live before, he declared, “I like the people who have not, so we’re performing for them.”
What seemed like a slight disregard for his older fans, is in fact a defining characteristic for an artist who continues to strive forward. As one of the leaders of the reggae revival movement, Protoje has become a symbol for the future of the genre. His latest album, ‘A Matter of Time,’ earned him his first Grammy-nomination for its ability to tie his 70s and 80s era Jamaican influences together with the hip-hop sounds of today.
While you could see the Good Vibes crowd rocking to his older songs, newer songs such as “Flames” and “Like This” were clearly stirring fans with a new rhythm. With great delight he would take a moment to point out, “Rebelution invited us on tour twice, so we must be doing something right.”
The fact is, Rebelution is one of today’s greatest live performers. From their college party roots to the Good Vibes Summer Tour, the group has too big of a sound to play a venue like Ace of Spades with comfort, and too liberating to be constricted to Golden 1 Center’s assigned seating. Like many of the performances that have taken place at Papa Murphy’s Park, the audience is coming to dance at these shows, for which Protoje and Durand Jones and The Indications were the perfect complement to Rebelution’s affinity to please a crowd.
In the spirit of reggae’s communal essence, Rebelution would invite Protoje onstage to perform their 2016 hit “Inhale Exhale,” to which the crowd reacted as if he had not just performed a full set shortly before. However, what did come as more of a surprise was the band’s introduction of Durand Jones, with whom they would perform a rendition of Ginuwine’s “Pony” — a surprisingly clever execution.
With their most popular songs at the forefront of fans’ lips, such as “Sky Is the Limit,” “Heart Like a Lion” and “Feeling Alright,” Rebelution lived up to the standard they have set for themselves over the years. As one of those group’s that sounds just as good on record as they do on stage, with the ability to sound better live when fully in tune, their Good Vibes Summer Tour is worth catching more than once—and we might just have to do that this summer.
The Good Vibes Summer Tour’s supporting acts vary according to dates and will be in Placerville, CA on September 1 for The Dry Diggins Festival.
For more information on the Good Vibes Summer Tour, visit RebelutionMusic.com.
Photos by Cesar Alexander