Review: John Brown’s Body at Common Grounds

Bold statement being made in 3…2…1!

Wednesday night’s show at  the Common Grounds in Gainesville, Florida may be the best show I’ve ever seen in this town. Without a doubt it’s in the top three. I’ve lived here for six years and seen a plethora of  live music in that span, of both the local and national variety, so this is a pretty big accolade.

There were three talented dub & reggae influenced bands bolstering the bill. Hours Eastly opened the set, followed by Passafire, and then came the headliners, John Brown’s Body. All three bands put on solid sets and though the majority of the bar’s patrons came out in support of JBB most were pleasantly surprised to be captivated by the openers as well. After both opening band’s sets I heard numerous comments in the vain of “damn they were good”.

Reggae music has the infallible and amazing capability to improve even the darkest of moods. Something about the Caribbean vibe to the tunes just takes away the troubles of the day and relaxes you, no matter how tense you might be. The mood at Common Grounds was unlike any I had ever experienced at that venue before. It seemed like everyone wanted to chat and be friendly with everyone else. The unity on the dance floor was like nothing I’d ever seen. For the most part there isn’t a lot of dancing at shows in Gainesville. The Cambridge, Massachusetts based, John Brown’s Body was a rare exception and a treat. It often seems like show goers in this town find it to be a chore to even nod their heads to the music. In stark contrast at the JBB show it seemed as if no one could contain their rhythmic motions even if they wanted to.

For me smiling faces, dancing, and intensely positive vibe in the crowd is a good sign that the band you are seeing is doing their job. Music transforms people and the 8-piece known as John Brown’s Body did an amazing job of unifying a crowd who I can guarantee did not contain one disappointed soul.

What did JBB do to create such an engaging and jovial atmosphere? Well, they put on a high energy show with a lot of emotion and heart behind it. The group played some older tracks mixed with some newer tracks from their 2008 release Amplify. Amplify has recently been turned into a 2009 release entitled Re-Amplify and features remixes of tracks from the previous record. JBB recruited Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo (Gym Class Heroes),  Dubmatix, Blue King Brown, Tommie Sunshine, and others for help with the remixes on the new album.

The band has even been incorporating the remixed versions of the tracks into their live set. Which is a good thing because if their goal was to make an easily likable dance record, they succeeded. The music is very agreeable and easy to digest. Great for creating atmosphere at a show and certainly an album you can enjoy from beginning to end. And, if you make it to the end there is a special treat. A new live recording of “Struggling”.

Listen up to BTR for great tunes from John Brown’s Body and do yourself a favor and catch them at a venue near you!

LIVE!!!

Aug 7  –  The Social  –  Orlando, FL
Aug 8  –  Live Wire Music Hall – Savannah, GA
Aug 11 – Tasty World –  Athens, GA
Aug 12 – Smith’s Olde Bar –  Atlanta, GA
Aug 13 – The Orange Peel –  Asheville, NC
Aug 14 – IS Venue  –  Charlottesville, VA
Aug 15 – Camp Barefoot Festival –  Gore, VA
Aug 21 – Beachcomber (Cape Cod) –  Wellfleet, MA
Sep 9  –  Unity Centre for Performing Arts  –  Unity, ME
Sep 10 –  Higher Ground  –  Burlington, VT
Sep 11 –  Bowery Ballroom –  New York, NY
Sep 12 –  Castaways –  Ithaca, NY

– Emily Smith

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