I heard my favorite song when I was a freshman in high school. Since then both my height and political views have changed drastically but my love for Tribal Seeds’ soulful single “Dawn of Time” has always stayed with me. That is why when I came across the band’s scheduled performance on September 3rd in SLO Brew’s events calendar during the lunch hour of my summer job, I knew I had to be there.
Tribal Seeds enters town fresh off recent tour stops in Dallas, Tuscon, and San Diego, all part of the last leg of their ambitious twenty-nine day, twenty-two show national tour. The band’s “Representing” summer tour comes just in time to promote their most recent album of the same name. Tribal Seeds’ much anticipated follow up to 2011 EP Soundwaves, Representing dropped on May 13th and has been met with widespread acclaim, thanks in large part to guest appearances by reggae legends Don Carlos and Mykal Rose, who are featured on the album. It did not take long for the album to debut at the top spot on Billboard’s Reggae Charts.
But for anyone who had been following the band in years previous, this most recent influx in attention and success was only a matter of time. Formed as a side project by brothers Steve and Tony-Ray Jacobo in 2005, the San Diego based band have been spreading the good vibes ever since, most notably with their self titled debut album in 2008 (a record that is a mainstay among my road trip playlists). With their 2009 follow up “The Harvest” universally regarded as an equally infectious collection of songs, Tribal Seeds unofficially became the staple of the reggae-rock genre, a genre they have helped reach peak levels of popularity in recent years.
The night at SLO Brew started with the opening band, The Expanders. Taking the stage well after seven, this LA-based respectively roots-reggae band had the crowd swaying on-call. Next up for the night was New Kingston, Brooklyn based and a decidedly dredded 4-piece band that honestly consisted of a father and three sons. Keyboard/Vocals mainstay Tahir Panton shredded on the keytar (real thing) while brothers Stephen and Courtney provided the ultimate compliment to father Courtney Sr., who happens to be an outstanding bassist.
With sound check tinkering lingering, Tribal Seeds took the stage just a shade past 10 pm. Opening their show with “Blood Clot,” a powerful song that features the likes of reggae legend Don Carlos. While Carlos was not in attendance at Wednesday night’s show, the opening track proved enough to capture the attention of a mostly medicated audience. Soon after “Blood Clot” (a song that belongs to their most recent album “Representing”), the band transitioned into their growing vault of fan favorites. “All I Know” from 2009 album “The Harvest” proved to be a big success among the central coast crowd.
In between huge puffs emanating from the smoke machine, Tribal Seeds was able to execute their recently fashionable single, “Fill It Up” which included timely live vocals from tour member and willing participant New Kingston.
In between huge puffs emanating from the smoke machine, Tribal Seeds was able to execute their recently fashionable single, “Fill It Up”
Followed by classic “Beautiful Mysterious” and my harrowed “Dawn of Time,” Tribal Seeds started striking chords with more than just their guitars. In the midst of their set, one wonders where the passionate pathos of this band hatched. Extremely talented keyboardist and occasional vocalist E.N Young explains that, “All of us grew up with all different kinds of genres of music. Some guys listened to NOFX and punk. I grew up listening to Dave Mathews Band and Van Morrison… Reggae music is what unites us all and we have all been into reggae music since a young age… All of us has reggae as the base genre, you know?”
Influences aside, Tribal Seeds successfully seeks out its own section of the rock-reggae genre. Their unique sound and righteously rebellious message have ringed true for a significant portion of the California population. E.N Young most likely echoes the sentiments of his stage brothers when he relayed to me “I am trying to speak passion, love, and peace. Reggae music is peaceful, spiritual within, and really connected with me originally so I am trying to speak that message… I am trying to spend that peace and love with everyone.”
Before the penultimate performance of the night, lead Tribal Seeds singer Steve Jacobo instructed the crowd to chant back “fuck the system,” a phrase prominently popularized by the politically-active band. This was shortly followed by reggae-rebellious single “Run the Show,” and was met with what was thought to be an unexpectedly abrupt end to the show. But the band had different intentions, emerging from the darkening stage to play their last hit of the night, “Vampire” from “The Harvest.” But what was most untraditional about the rendition were the impromptu collaborations. Members from previously performing bands The Expanders and New Kingston took over the stage as the audience was treated to an entertaining ending to their night of reggae festivities.
I left SLO Brew with great respect for Tribal Seeds. Not only had they fulfilled my admittedly steep expectations, they had re-instilled the pleasure I experienced when I discovered reggae music through their first album early on in my high school career. While much has changed, Wednesday night proved that not everything has.