Rebelution, Iration and Pepper Show Off the Other Side of Reggae's Grassroots
When it comes to reggae festivals, the common thread among the bands is usually made out of hemp. However, the acts you'll see performing Saturday, March 15, at sunny Tempe Beach Park extend far beyond reggae and hip-hop grassroots genre's status quo. In fact, the four headliners — Rebelution, Atmosphere, Pepper, and Iration — have grown to be influential in their own rights.
Red Distribution Rebelution is scheduled to perform on Saturday, March 15, at Tempe Beach Park.
It's not just about carrying a positive vibe and being musically talented. For a collective 50-plus years, these four bands have prevailed as independent, artistic vehicles that helped evolve the grassroots genre. And all of them are releasing new music in 2014.
"Three of the four bands obviously have a reggae element, while Atmosphere has made their name in hip-hop," says Iration's vocalist/guitarist Micah Pueschel. "I think we've all built our fan bases on good music and the grassroots and independent style."
Indeed, the most hip-hop-oriented group on the bill, Atmosphere, known for its introspective songwriting, settles in well with the mellow reggae acts.
"Last summer, while on tour with Slightly Stoopid, I saw how similar our audiences were," says Slug, who, with DJ/producer Ant, founded Atmosphere in the early '90s. "At a show like this one, all of the bands realize that we are all parts to a sum that is greater than us."
To be released in May, Atmosphere's seventh album, Southsiders, is all about feeling fortunate, whether it is just about being alive or fans' acceptance of the band's evolution.
"One of the things that separates us from some of our rap contemporaries is that our audience doesn't really care about who's cooler than who," Slug says. "People just come to let it out, and we're fortunate in that respect."