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Rebellion plays a concert in Texas, one of the bands tour performances, including the Nov. 17 appearance at the Blue Note.

Courtesy of Ralph Arvesen flickr

Rebelution grooves Columbia

American reggae band plays the Blue Note with flashy newcomers Hirie.

By Zach Stoner | Nov. 29, 2016

Tags: Concerts Music Reviews

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Standing in a line against the brick wall of the Blue Note waiting for a famous reggae band paints an interesting scene. I have the smell of cigarette smoke and a fragrance that I can only describe as “hipster” (I’m assuming grease) clouding my senses. Across the street, there is a mass protest against all things President-elect Trump, and behind me are two long-haired, Billabong-hooded gentlemen discussing how Rebelution is “one of the bands that just never accepted the system, bro.”

I will admit, this wasn’t the scene I was expecting waiting in line for a band that rocked Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre mere months ago. This wasn’t the scene I was expecting to kick off the band’s long awaited Falling into Place tour.

In other words, it just didn’t seem like “a rebelution, bro.” Still, the chart-topping reggae band was about to win the night and this skeptical millennial over.

As the crowd piled in around 8:30 p.m., it was greeted by the opener, Hirie, a reggae rock band led by the striking front woman named — well — Hirie. As everyone knows, openers are given a small nod in the hopes that they can one day take the place of the band they are opening for. Yet, for the first time in the countless shows I’ve covered, I was pleasantly surprised by this group.

Simply put, Hirie the band hijacked the crowd and has the makings of a superstar group. From its incandescent light show, to its exotic use of the saxophone behind the vocals and range of the singer Hirie, to the absolutely audacious attempt to cover Drunk in Love in a quasi-reggae style that somehow worked, Hirie was the best opening band I’ve seen in recent memory.

The crowd caught its breath between the two shows, and in that time I noticed the odd, yet inviting, smorgasbord of individuals making up small audience. There were hipsters. There were fraternity and sorority members. There were men dressed in overalls sporting “Make America Great Again” hats. There was even an older gentleman who looked indistinguishable from the grandfather from Johnny Tsunami. There was everything in between.

In the divisive days we live, this was a breath of fresh inclusion, as this diverse crowd awaited the reggae band from Isla Vista, California.

At around 10 p.m., the Rebelution began. The skeptic in me wondered if the band would be able to hold the attention of a mid-Missouri crowd, but that skepticism was replaced by admiration for songs like the groovy Safe and Sound and Roots Reggae Music.

Complemented by the slow, California rock sound of Fade Away and the upbeat, head-shaking bounce of De-Stress, Rebelution’s array of talents were on full display and the night was satisfactory. Along with a delightful light show that added an aura of mysterious class to a well-rounded show, they were a delight.

With an awesome set and multi-instrumental diverse tracks, Rebelution won this skeptic over and proved that American reggae rock has etched its place in modern music.

Edited by Katherine White | kwhite@themaneater.com

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