February 3rd, 2017, Elbo Room, San Francisco, CA.
At 10pm, I stood outside of the venue, along with the rest of the concert go-ers, when the manager yelled that the show was sold out.North Bay’s Sol Horizon and San Francisco’s Native Elements performed a live tribute show to celebrate the life and honor the legacy of Bob Marley in the vibrant Mission district.
A huge sigh was vocalized by the line of people, which happened to extend to the end of the block. Inside on the second floor, members of Native Elements sang and danced in as the crowd of reggae lovers yelled and clapped their hands in the marijuana smoke and fog machine infused room.
Not many music groups can say they’ve grown up together since young children like the members of Native Elements have. They are undeniably more of a family than a band, and this is verifiable by their strong musical kinship on and off stage. The open use of blazing activities was relaxing, and Native Elements’s Jose (lead singer) expressed himself with positive messages and true stories of his life in the songs.
In the murky and hazy room, which fully infiltrated my nose with hints of sweet earthy tones, marijuana use was a never-ending activity. It was a stoners’ dream. Joints and spliffs were puff puff passed in between groups of friends as silver disco balls twirled in circles above as lights of bright yellow and orange bounced off the mirrors. Close by, red Chinese New year lanterns dangled as blue lasers beamed on closed eyes and smiling faces.
There’s something about the cultural vibe in the Mission that assembles the most unlikely congregation. As the night progressed, the young and older aged crowd dramatically boomed in groups of diverse individuals. Did the hippies with dreads make their trek from the Haight? Did the single ladies get a crop top memo? Do tech bros only own casual plaid? Regardless of their home base and fashion differences, the major cliques merged and soaked up the euphonious melody of the saxophone and guitar shredding solos.
Hailing from Sebastopol, California, Sol Horizon energetically pleased the crowd of sweaty bodies with an eclectic performance fusion of progressive roots reggae, funk rock, dub, and world beats. Michael Litwin, the front man vocalist, delivered a high-energy musical experience that garnered head turns from every inch in the room. Jumping up and down, not forgetting the corners of the stage, and even high-fiving those standing the front, Litman invited the crowd to come sing and dance. With open arms, he kept the vibes rolling by quoting influential statements such as “Run for cover, Reggae take over!” and “Long Live Spirit and Music!”
As the audience extracted the flavor and healing properties of the Rastafarian music, they had their own dance interpretations. Two popular moves were the shoulder-to-shoulder slouch and the slinky-armed snake move. The visible plague of great dance interpretations evolved to a sweaty performance of judgment-free improv. Air conditioning would have sufficed but the concertgoers were too immersed in letting loose that they did not seem bothered by the clammy air or cared to wipe the dripping sweat from their dampened faces.
Almost as if they gladly wanted to exchange the heavy rain showers of San Francisco for a sauna-like summer night on the Jamaican islands that night. An excellent trade off in their minds was well worth the sticky moist vibes.
Litwin’s extreme positive demeanor and powerful voice was motivational and touching as the crowd sang along to Bob Marley’s “Concrete Jungle.” Widely grinning, Litwin’s last words were: “Doesn’t it feel good to sing Bob Marley?”