Fans of reggae music made their way to the Barn Wednesday night to enjoy the sweet melodies of Daniel Bambaata Marley, the multitalented grandson of the legendary Bob Marley. Despite being given a start time of 7:30 p.m., the doors didn’t open until 8 p.m., leaving me and a few others left to wait outside the venue. Almost an hour and a half later, the show was finally ready to begin.
First to take the stage was Beyond Rhythm, a reggae-pop band started right here in Riverside, Calif. Donned in a white blazer and shades, lead singer Ben Cook welcomed concertgoers to groove along with him. There couldn’t have been more than 20 people in the venue, all of whom seemed to be more curious than excited about the band. The small crowd timidly moved forward and attempted to get more into the performance when asked by Cook. The other band members, Will Cannell, I-Sef and Chang Su appeared to be enjoying themselves despite the lack of energy in the room. Cook also seemed to be in his own little world, pacing the stage and jumping up and down while performing a song called “Low.”
It’s always great when an artist puts their all into a set; it makes it hard not to appreciate their enthusiasm, which is what seemed to happen during Beyond Rhythm’s set. At the beginning of a song called “Personal Relationships,” Cook once again asked the audience to dance along and this time people were more than willing to cooperate. Beyond Rhythm was met with generous applause as they headed off the stage, successfully setting the mood for what was to come. Eventgoers conversed and ordered food during the 30-minute wait for Marley and slowly but surely, more people began to arrive, laughing with friends and enjoying the cool air after a typical, hot Riverside day. However, the crowd never grew as big as I expected it to, with only a few more attendees gathered around the stage as Marley walked on with his band.
Clad with an electric guitar, keyboard, bass and drums, the band was ready to put on a great show. The small crowd lost themselves in the music, with a few dancing with their partners and almost everyone in the room bobbing their heads. Marley made it a point to stay interactive with the crowd. “If you love life, move over here!” he shouted as a group of people ran to the left side of the stage. With offbeat rhythmic patterns and heavy bass, the band did nothing short of bringing the island vibe straight to Riverside. Marley’s vocals were incredible, a combination of raspy and smooth perfect for the reggae genre.
The songs performed revolved around peace and love, as well as societal and life truths. “The truth is, truth is ruthless,” Marley sang repeatedly while the band slowed down to strengthen the message. Marley proved to not only be a good singer, but an excellent rapper as well. He created quite the frenzy, moving to the very front of the stage and spitting a verse so rapidly that the crowd couldn’t help but shout in amazement. Marley slowed it down by picking up an acoustic guitar while he sang about togetherness and love. Couples moved a little closer and swayed, taking in the positive vibes radiating from inside the Barn.
It was obvious, however, that Marley planned on ending the show with a bang. “Out in the streets they call it murder!” he yelled, going back and forth with the audience as everyone continued screaming “murder!” in response. Marley and his band put their all into the last few minutes of the set, garnering a crazed reaction from the crowd. People were jumping, yelling and one audience member even began frantically waving his lighter, making me worry about the future condition of the woman’s hair in front of him. Grinning from ear to ear, Marley concluded by thanking the crowd for coming out as he left the stage. All in all, it was a night filled with good music and good vibes. Honestly, what more can you ask for?