by Ora “Tre” Brasel
At every show the audience plays a pivotal role in how the overall experience of the event gets placed in your memory. In fact, it has so much power that it can push mediocre performances into some of the greatest times of our lives, or it can almost instantly wipe away your ability to appreciate the merits of extremely talented musicians giving their all. Sadly this night falls into the latter part, and I fully realize from the reactions of others in attendance that I might be one of a few that feels this way. Regardless of anything else, I place the blame of my negative experience primarily on the shoulders of those who were too wasted and disrespectful to bother being civil to those around them.
As for the music, the night started out with Still Green, a reggae band from Jax Beach. Right about the time they started playing the crowd grew exponentially, bringing with it people who felt the need to shove those who were happily dancing. The music itself was a lighthearted affair that I felt like I’d seen far too many times before, but I still tried to enjoy it despite the fact that it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. One hitch: every time the band talked to the crowd they were speaking in Jamaican accents, which made things feel as if we were watching some sort of parody on reggae at times. In addition, a crowd of about 30 tourists visiting from Minnesota came in and began rudely shoving their way onto the floor, which was grating heavily on nerves after being pushed for the hundredth time. Perhaps if the situation would have been different Still Green’s fake Jamaican yammering wouldn’t of been such an integral part of my dislike of the band. But even without the inconsiderate audience it still would of seemed a bit hokey and unnecessary to do for presentation’s sake.
It took nearly 40 minutes for Soldiers of Jah Army to get set up, plenty of time for some members of the audience to get good and wasted. During the extended intermission a large group of girls, well on their way to inebriation, got all hot and bothered about meeting the drummer for Still Green. For most people this wouldn’t be anything to be excited about since its just a guy in a local band, but perhaps these ladies were just starting to cut their groupie teeth. On top of having to hear them squeal and shriek about this mundane thrill, I also managed to get two mixed drinks sloshed on me and was elbowed in the back, ribs and the side of the head. Thanks girls!
After what felt like a short eternity, SOJA finally appeared on stage. After grabbing a few pictures of the band, an ordeal in and of itself since one of the girls standing next to me dragged her extremely tall guy friend right into my view, I managed to snag a spot in the back to try and experience what the headliners had to offer. From my vantage point, it was hard to really see too much of what was going on up on the stage, but from what I could hear their music has a heavy jazz influence mixed with in with the reggae. Thanks to my earlier shot to the head, it was hard for my hearing to really center in on the two singers’ voices enough to follow along with the words, yet another upsetting point of the night for me. There really was not much that could have been done about this happening, but it would of made me a little less annoyed had there at least been some sort of halfhearted apology offered after the assault. I tried to set all the negatives aside and was doing my best to enjoy what I could of the show with my now somewhat limited hearing, and then came the straw that broke the camel’s back- another drunken fool stumbled backward into me, knocking me hard against the brick wall. That was it. I called it a night.
Unfortunately I can’t really say too much of what I thought of SOJA, because what little I did get to listen to had to go through muffled ears and an even more scrambled mind. Maybe next time. What I did come away with was a word of advice to those attending concerts: if people could, every once in awhile, acknowledge the fact that others exist at shows and give them just a bit consideration, it might make a world of difference and help everyone have a great time. For now, I can only hope that people polish up on their manners and that my next experience at Freebird Live has no essence of this one anywhere on it.
Soldiers of Jah Army and Still Green
by Ora “Tre” Brasel