To anyone wondering how Pink Floyd’s “Time” would sound with reggae beats, look no further: Easy Star All-Stars have figured that out. What about Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android”? They did it. The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”? Have a listen. This talented NYC group has been infusing classics with reggae, ska, and dub since 2003, and the end results are absolutely brilliant.
Last Thursday at Venue Nightclub, Easy Star All-Stars spread their love of smooth, infectious beats in Vancouver. Mostly Marley, a reggae band that plays all over B.C. and whom are known for covering, well, mostly Marley, also joined the fun. Mostly Marley got the Thursday night concertgoers nicely warmed up for the main act by doing a delicious cover of “Concrete Jungle” and other reggae hits.
When Easy Star All-Stars got onstage, the dance floor was already packed, and everyone was pumped. The band showed their appreciation for the warm Vancouver welcome by starting their set with a medley of their popular covers – a sneak peek of what was in store for the night. Right after the last note of the crowd-thumping medley, the “reggae-rific” ensemble officially opened their set with an obvious fan favourite, Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”.
For those unfamiliar with the New York reggae scene, here’s a short introduction to the ones who kept it going. Easy Star All-Stars are the brainchild of Easy Star Records, an independent label that pushed the reggae movement not just locally but internationally. This group of rotating talents is responsible for remaking great hits from Pink Floyd and the Beatles. Yes, the All-Stars are that bold, to mess with timeless classics. But Easy Star All-Stars’ unique style has the ability to make those songs their own while still respecting the classics’ original form and sound. Easy Star All-Stars are so amazing at what they do, it’s difficult to mind that they sprinkle their own flavour on such well-loved tunes.
Seeing this band in person also confirms their live skills. Switching from covers to originals, the current line-up of eight musicians didn’t stop the dance party. A couple of originals belted out by powerhouse vocalist Kirsty Rock may have leaned too much towards pop, but since the band switched back to the sweet reggae sound that they’re known for, this tiny “divergence” was easy to overlook.
Easy Star All-Stars delivered such a great show, the crowd made sure to call them back for an encore. The band ended the night with Radiohead’s “Karma Police” with the audience singing along to the chorus. It was all sorts of fun, not to mention incredibly fulfilling. This reggae fix from Easy Star will most likely last a while.