Gestures & Sound – Concert Review

The Mint showcased a variety of talent on its June 21 bill from pop-influenced singer-songwriters to hard rocking folk quartets. There was something for everyone on a busy night. The venue itself is very intimate with an up close and personal stage where patrons could enjoy a variety of food and drinks mere feet away from live performances.

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Emily James. Photo by Isiah Reyes

Singer-songwriter Emily James, originally from New York, opened the night by playing songs from her latest EP as well as some to be featured on an upcoming release. As she started singing her first song, it was apparent early on that her voice is the driving force behind her music. Along with bold lyrics and stellar performances on both guitar and keys, she used all her talents as she shared stories stemming from personal places in her life including the tale of “A Boy in Memphis” (which may or may not be based on a true story). Emily is a well-rounded musician and her voice alone is enough to get hooked on with striking similarities to the likes of Adele. She put on a good set that was well received by a full bar by the time she was finished. We look forward to seeing her again on stage and in the meantime, we have the recently released and tender “Emily James – EP” to listen to, which she collaborated with Grammy award winning producer Jacquire King and producer Ian Fitchuk.

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James Taugher. Photo by Isiah Reyes

Following up was the Bay area-native James Taugher, a Motown, funk extraordinaire who brought a full band to stage to rock out. The five-piece was a solid group that excelled with soaring guitar solos, groovy keys, eclectic drums and sure-fire basslines. James is very comfortable on stage as he was dancing and showing off his Hip-Hop inspired vocals that are tinged with soul. At one point, he split the venue down the middle and got one half of the packed venue to sing the first part of the catchy chorus and the other half to finish it off. His way with crowds could only have been refined through years of performances, and on this last date of his band’s tour, everyone was in for a treat. James’ energy was contagious as it flowed from himself to his bandmates and ultimately to the audience. It was a high-octane set that went far above all lofty expectations.

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Gestures & Sounds. Photo by Isiah Reyes

Folk indie rock band Gestures & Sounds took stage with the anthemic “Coach” that showed everyone what they were capable of. The mostly-Wisconsin band had moments of introspection followed immediately after by moments of rocking out, a combination not often seen by bands not sporting an electric guitar. With an acoustic guitar, melodic keys, and an intense rhythm section (not to mention the occasional harmonica), Gestures & Sounds managed to be louder and larger than the sum of their parts. Especially impressive was the drumming performance, as it took songs that would perhaps be considered tame in nature to the next level. The atmosphere at The Mint was lively and welcomed Gestures & Sounds, who returned the appreciation by putting on a solid set that shows what a group of guys who love for music can do.

Overall, the night was a fun time to be had by all. Attendees who stayed longer had the opportunity to enjoy Cult of Positivity and Nicholas Braun, establishing once again that The Mint is the go-to place for experiencing young, upcoming talent.

Easy Star All-Stars Concert Review

The Echoplex welcomed reggae bands The Elovators, The Late Ones, and Easy Star All-Stars on Memorial Day 2017 as the three bands embark on their West Coast Tour.

Opening the show was The Elovators from Boston, Massachusetts, who brought the beach sounds from the east coast to this side of the country on their first ever performance in California. They performed songs from their recently released album “The Cornerstone,” setting up for what would be a very funky night. Throughout their set, the band was friendly, even asking everyone to step in closer to the stage to create a more intimate setting. From clean vocals to the groovy trombone, The Elovators successfully brought their authentic sound to the Echoplex and showed what their hometown was all about. Overall, they were a great opening band and enjoyed themselves on stage just as much as the crowd enjoyed watching them perform.

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The Elovators. Photo via Isiah Reyes

The Late Ones came out onto the stage next with a different approach. They brought a lot more energy and instantly got everyone hyped. Based out of Laie, Hawaii, brothers Tui Avei (lead vocals), and Tau Avei (vocals), along with cousin Josh Brunson (vocals) brought their rapid-fire rhymes and rap-infused style to give everyone a chance to let loose and truly enjoy the night out. Some of their songs were full of high-octane ferocity, while others were slower jams. Either way, The Late Ones managed to get their new fans swaying to their hypnotic rhythms in no time. The youthful band is taking hold of the reggae torch and infusing its flame with dashes of Jazz and R&B in new and exciting ways. They got everyone pumped up for the final act and the headliners for the night’s show.

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The Late Ones. Photo via Isiah Reyes

Before the Easy Star All-Stars took the stage, there was an undeniable energy in the air. I believe those in attendance had an idea of what to expect, but no one was prepared for just how hard they would rock out. A thunderous applause followed as each member finally stepped out. The opening song started as a long instrumental that allowed for everyone to get accustomed to the band’s versatility. Soon after, the collective force of all eight members on stage playing off each other began to shine and they started playing their reggae cover hits by legendary acts Pink Floyd, Radiohead, The Beatles, and Michael Jackson. The highlight of the night was when they performed Pink Floyd’s “Money” leading into “Billie Jean” and just when you thought it was over, they went back into “Money,” with a flourishing end that had everyone head-banging to the dynamic rhythm section and outstanding vocal harmonies from the multitude of vocalists on stage. This performance proved the Easy Star All-Stars are indeed one of the top reggae performing acts in the world right now. As someone who doesn’t listen to reggae regularly, the entire show for me was a gateway into a new sound that I’ll be keeping an ear out for.

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Easy Star All-Stars. Photo via Isiah Reyes

If you’re ready to experience The Elovators, The Late Ones, and Easy Star All-Stars, three reggae bands that know how to put on a good show, be sure to check out their tour dates to know when they’ll be coming into your town so you can enjoy it all for yourself too.