Summer 2015 brought with itself two things for KSMR: the first being a massive power outage from mid May and taking us into late June. But shortly after that, our second Summer event occurred. Our General Manager: Nick was able to snag for us four tickets to see San Diego based Reggae band: Slightly Stoopid, alongside Ska Punk/Hip-Hop anomalies: The Dirty Heads. Opening up for them at this event was The Expendables, a smaller Reggae-Rock band signed to Stoopid Records.
Of course, Nick and I had acquired two tickets for ourselves and KSMR hosted a contest for the two remaining tickets we had to give away. The winners were alumni of Saint Mary’s University: Bethany Schmidt (’14) and Winona State University student: Lindsey Bailey (’18). The four of us packed ourselves in a car armed only with our cell phones, and caffeinated drinks. I myself had been running on about four hours of sleep from the night before, so I figured I was in about the same state of mind as most of the other concert goers in attendance. The crowd was expected to be full of college students – and I guessed that at least two thirds of them had been up late the night before studying.
We arrived late, at the back end of The Expendables set. The only song we were able to catch in its entirety was “Packed This Bowl For Two,” an easy listening song featuring smooth bass riffs and the typical off-beat pattern regularly featured in Reggae music. While unable to comment on the exact nature of the song, I made a highly educated guess that it was about eating cereal. As the band has shouted midway through the song: “Who wants to [eat some cereal] after this!?” to which the crowd erupted in a loud roar typical of concerts.
Their set ended rather anti-climactically, but I may have perceived this due to the fact that I’d arrived late.
In between sets, the crowd shifted from the college-aged concert-goers to the crowd typical of an EDM festival. As the crowds were shifting, a crowd member noticed they had “never seen this many people with dreadlocks in one place.” I could only agree. The only concerts I’d ever been to were hard rock and metal based bands, so this kind of concert experience was as new to me as it was to Lindsey, who stated “Just wait until my friends find out I went to a Reggae show for my first concert.”
The Dirty Heads set picked up shortly after this, opening with the well-known THX signature noise. Their music slowly gained energy as their set went on. Most of the music they played – I noted – was from their most recent album: Sound of Change. While listening to them, there were points where I understood why the crowd here was – the Dirty Heads were good. As a metalhead, and frequently accused “metal elitist,” I enjoyed them extensively. Though, I was thrown off by the distinct lack of moshing amongst the crowd. Instead, what I found was a crowd of people hugging, and seemingly grilling, because a light smoke had covered the air above us all.
By far, the most memorable moments of their set were “Spread Too Thin” and their closer: “My Sweet Summer.” They opened the former with “Who has [stuff] to do tomorrow that they don’t want to do?” And as the last lines of their hit: “My Sweet Summer” rang through the speakers, the crowd seemed considerably less enthused with them than they were before. Whether it was because just before that “Medusa” had rang through their ears, and the lower energy of “My Sweet Summer” bummed them out, or if there was some kind of ulterior motive for the lack of a crowd response is beyond my imagination.
And after they had left the stage, a trap remix of that same song flooded the ears of the crowd. At this point we sat down on a curb and waited for the headliners to announce their presence on stage. Once we had taken rest here, I had realized why so many concert-goers had chosen this particular point of reference from which to hear their favorite music. It allowed one to step back and observe the concert in a whole new light… The sun was setting on this outdoor venue and the final words of “My Sweet Summer” were finally starting to sink in.
But then the sound of a kick drum and and the bopping of bongos alerted us all that Slightly Stoopid had shown themselves. The crowd that filled the pit for them looked like they were the same age as I am now – when I was born. The crowd that showed during The Expendables had all but dissapeared, even the crowd for the Dirty Heads paled in comparison to the sophisticated Reggae that was Slightly Stoopid.
And it was Reggae, yes. But it was something more: as if they had studied extensively the likes of Bob Marley and Sublime and channeled the energy these superstars of sound into a beautifully simplistic sound that all crowds could probably enjoy. And that was my biggest problem with it. It was too generic. Reggae is supposed to draw this rich crowd of earth-loving, liberal-minded, collectivistic individuals with a common goal of loving one another, and eating tons of cereal could form themselves together. And I noticed a distinct lack of this from Slightly Stoopid. One song bled into the next, if I were entirely unfamiliar with their music, I would have thought each song went on for ten minutes. And I looked over to Lindsey, who was unfamiliar with this music, and just behind her I noticed a man dressed in a light blue polo who appeared to be as distressed as I was with the monotony of the music – and the impending invasion of skunk into our nostrils.
But I suppose this was an experience to be expected from a band that had to follow such huge acts, but insists on headlining due to its once large status as a great Reggae band. Overall my Slightly Stoopid experience was only slightlystupid.
Article by Michael O’Brien-Britton- Technical Director-KSMR Radio (SMU ’18)
Photos by Nick Novotny – General Manager-KSMR Radio (SMU ’16)