Michael Franti pleases Columbia audience
At Michael Franti’s request for the crowd to “shake it,” reverberating sounds, lights and bodies shook The Blue Note wall to wall as Franti’s funk/reggae/folk fusion band Michael Franti and Spearhead got Monday night’s crowd to shake away the day’s monotonies.
Not a foot on the dance floor touched the ground as the crowd bounced along with Franti’s airborne dreads. The song “Shake it” was among many played at the show from the band’s most recent album The Sound of Sunshine. In likeness to the album’s title, an aura of golden hues engulfed the stage throughout the concert.
The interaction between Franti and his fans is a bit like you would imagine a Raffi show to be like - if Raffi played Sublime covers and made quips about Mary Jane. He enthusiastically goad’s his crowd into jumping, shaking, hugging and smiling. It might seem cheesy at times but above all else - it’s fun.
Few artists possess Franti and Spearhead’s ability to engage their audience and get everyone into a groove. Franti’s strategy seems to involve simply embracing the inner goof or ‘freak.’ As the band was playing the song “Stay Human (All The Freaky People),” Franti had nearly the whole crowd nodding in confirmation when he asked, “Who here likes being freaky?”
Midway through the show, two of the band’s guitarists indiscriminately hopped off stage and meandered through the crowd. The two met in the middle of the floor and played riffs back and forth while fans close by grooved and watched in complete wonderment. As the band started in on playing Sunshine’s title track later on in the set (it seemed the show would be wrapping up soon), the lights fell momentarily and kicked right back up like the midnight sun. The crowd went wild and Franti delivered his second wind - though he probably could have played all night, he seems to encompass the energy of the sun. The concert was full of positive vibes and smiles. The music was great, the band was enthusiastic and like the speeds of light and sound and the summer’s sun, it all seemed to go by much too fast.