Like a merry band of Jonny Ganjaseeds traveling the world to sow reggae and roots wherever the wind takes them, Iration has been at it for over a decade now, spreading their brand of beachside jam over toasted audiences from coast to coast.
They visited South Florida earlier this year for Sunfest and returned on Thursday for a show at Ft. Lauderdale’s Revolution Live, supported by The Green, The Movement and Hours Eastly. I walked into a venue that was just crowded enough to where you could still navigate without too much trouble in time to catch the last few songs from The Movement, who, judging by the warm reception and applause, seemed to do a great job of opening.
The Green was the penultimate act and was quick to take over. Also hailing from Hawaii, as Iration did before relocating to Southern California, lead singer Caleb burst out onto the stage instructing everyone to throw their shakas up and the crowd was happy to oblige. I only caught a few of their songs before it was time to meet up with Adam from Iration for our interview, but I liked what little I heard and will definitely be giving their music a listen. Their sound was a jammy island vibe that seemed to resonate with many others, as the crowd was stoked for their set and their second to last album Ways and Means topped the Billboard reggae chart.
Then it was time to head back to the green room for a pow wow with Adam. This should come as no surprise, but he was incredibly friendly and down to Earth. We discussed the evolution of their sound spanning four albums, cover songs, inspiration and collaborations, hip hop undertones on their new album influenced by producer King David (Lupe Fiasco and R. Kelly), life on the road and what him and the guys like to do in their downtime (another shocker: it’s wakeboarding, surfing and golf). I dropped the tripod off at my car and came back in as the house DJ faded “Hotline Bling”, signaling it was time for the main event.
Whatever space there was to move earlier had vanished, as dread heads, bros and business professionals alike packed in shoulder to shoulder, proving that reggae knows no boundaries and music is universal. By now Revolution was so hazy there was no need for the fog machine, as the lights and lazers refracted off the smoke making the place light up like a Christmas tree.
The crowd roared as the Micah’s, Joe’s (yes, two sets of double names in the band), Cayson and Adam took the stage and opened with “Reelin”, one of the singles from their new album Hotting Up, which is quickly approaching one million plays on Soundcloud.
With a discography spanning four albums, a few EPs and countless covers recorded over the course of the past ten years, Iration has a sizeable arsenal to pull tracks from and didn’t disappoint, as they followed with “Electricity”, a throwback from 2008’s Sample This. Green and purple spotlights rained down on Micah as he slid into the slow and dubby “Mr. Operator”. The place was dark aside from the stage lights and infrequent flickering of flames that would spark just briefly enough to catch your eye and then vanish. The pace continued, slow and mellow as they followed with “Back Around” and then the vibe took a 180 as the venue lit up and the opening to “Automatic” came through the speakers, which was barely audible because the audience was cheering so loudly.
They closed with “867”, a new track from Hotting Up that incorporates some EDM-sounding synthesizers. After exiting stage right, they quickly returned to the crowd’s chants of one more song to double the request with “Hotting Up”, the eponymous song from the album and finally ended the evening with the ever-satisfying “Timebomb”.
This was my first time seeing Iration live and they more than lived up to my expectations. Their originals are all awesome, but one of my favorite moments of the night came when they launched into a cover of Marley’s “Is This Love”. I’d seen Micah Brown’s phenomenal coffee house cover of it before, but having the entire band behind him took it to the next level.
These guys have it made. They get to travel the world, break bud, write music and play to fans that adore them and on their days off, they’re golfing and surfing. Their pleasant attitudes and energetic performances draw people to them like a gravitational pull. Hotting Up has cracked the top ten on both the Billboard and iTunes reggae charts, but these guys aren’t too concerned with that. They just want to make good music and have fun. Who could ask for a better gig? At any rate, Iration’s music is a must for any time spent outdoors on the beach, on a boat or near a grill. They make perfect summertime songs and even though we’re heading into fall, if they’re coming to a city near you, make it a point to see the show.