Iration Shines in Oakland with Rebelution, Orgone

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Iration, the young Reggae band from Hawaii, brought a special energy to Oakland's Fox Theater on Jan. 15. The crowd ranged from teenagers to middle-aged adults, a testament to Reggae's infectious rhythm, and Iration's particular appeal to everyone in attendance.

The set began strong, with an explosion of Island style, and the energy never dropped off. Drummer Joseph Dickens - shirtless though he was - laid down a consistently intricate and danceable beat, never wavering throughout the set. Every song felt real - perhaps it was due to Iration's youth, but their music comes with the sincerity of a group that believes in its writing.

The audience sang along to many of Iration's songs. The band has been around long enough for their songs to develop a following, but they still play with the excitement of a newly-discovered band on tour for the first time. The dramatic stage lighting certainly deepened the experience as well, following the individual contours of the music.

Scattered tastefully throughout the set, Micah Pueschel's guitar solos brought an intensity that propelled several of the songs to new heights. Each one energized the entire audience, and their enthusiastic dancing increased in proportion.

Reggae fan Samantha Heller of Concord, CA - new to Iration - said that she liked the message of the songs. "It was really moving music, and I think everybody liked it," she said. "It felt cool to listen to." Heller added that she especially liked the sound of the bass.

Later in the show, Rebelution also performed with an incredible stage presence, but their set was more mature, and cautious. Their songs were carefully-formed, and "radio-ready," where Iration's set was much looser, and bordered on improvisational. Despite Rebelution's firm establishment in the Reggae community, they lacked the raw live energy of Iration's set, and the audience didn't groove quite as hard.

In the end, the appeal of a band like Iration transcends the limits of genre, or the confines of musical production. Rather, it's about the unique story of its members, and the sheer joy they exude while performing onstage. It's about the personal connection with the audience, deeply felt by every fan in attendance that night. And most of all, it's about the passion evident in every guitar stroke, drum hit, and happily-sung lyric, and the ability of that passion to communicate the energy of Reggae.

Special bonus review: After the show, we stopped by Pizza Man, at 1442 Broadway in Oakland. Their gigantic slice cost $2.50, and it was the best I've had in a long time. To quote my tape recording of the experience: "Oh man, this is so good. It makes my entire mouth happy." Definitely a solid follow-up to a high-energy Reggae show.

EBAC thanks Iration for access to this concert.

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