By Maddy Jones
Reggae outfit and Westcott regular John Brown’s Body provided some warmth on a chilly winter’s night.
Check out our photo gallery from the show.
Last Friday night, Jan. 18, as I trekked through the frigid cold to The Westcott, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew John Brown’s Body played an edgier form of reggae — not your typical Bob Marley and the Wailers sound. I knew last September they came to Syracuse and killed it. And I knew it was really fucking cold out.
But as I stepped into the Westcott, I shed my outer layer and the cold vanished. Well, yes, I took my coat off because it was literally warm. But also there was another warmth, too, that was everywhere. I felt it the second I breathed in the weed-soaked air and when the sweet music of the opening acts, Root Shock and House on a Spring, met my ears. Maybe it also came from the woman with dreads selling merchandise, rocking out by herself. From the crowds of people swaying and dancing. From the cup of cool Westcott ale in my hand. Whatever it was, I knew from the beginning it was going to be a good night.
By the time JBB came on, the crowd’s musical palette was dripping with pleasure from the opening acts. JBB’s upbeat sound and the strong, flavorful voice of the lead singer, Elliot Martin, kept everyone moving. It was hard to keep my eyes off him because I could feel his love of the music and the performance with every dance move and flick of his dreads. I couldn’t help it; I had to move. It was like some invisible beast gently and wonderfully coaxed my body into rocking back and forth with the slinky base line.
I had thought reggae usually has predictable rhythms and begins to sound the same after a while. JBB, however, pleasantly surprised me with their not-so-predictable songs, impressive musicians, and heavy rhythms. The horn section in particular was slammin’. They were tight, strong, and funky. When the trombone player, Scott Flynn, soloed, I would not have been surprised to see panties flying through the air to accompany their owners’ screams of delight.
JBB seems to have found its own unique reggae sound while still staying true to reggae’s roots. I walked in cold, not knowing how I would feel about JBB, but came out feeling rather warm, full with love and the spirit of reggae.