Team dRiFFt managed to squeak in an afternoon at the Austin Reggae festival to see Austin locals Lion Heights perform on the big stage. We passed a stone-faced police sentry at the door (pun intended), who couldn’t hide his disinterest in guarding the sole acre of Texas where weed is briefly legal(-ish). The Jamaican-themed festival was heartily alternative and predictably green, with a family vibe, a smattering of ravers and even a few real, live hippies.
While the band was setting up, we found ourselves drawn to the drum circle. Such rhythms in the round usually promise interesting characters. This time in addition to the usual tie-dye, braids and peasant skirts, we encountered possibly the most fantastically gifted and wonderfully interesting braided drummer who proceeded to scream at us for photographing his drum circle - no love here, clearly. ‘None shall gain my permission for footage!’ Fair enough, sir, much love to you as well. We continued to hang, to drum a little and observe a lot, and eventually the others disagreed with cantankerous braidman. In earthly free-living solidarity, a barefoot, tamborine-laden flower-crowned gentleman man in a tie-dye shirt and knitted shorts proclaimed through sage smoke “whatevah! ...snap what you love, mon!” He was middle-aged, very white and looked like he'd otherwise just stepped out of a board room. Oh, how we love the City of Austin.
Lion Heights did not disappoint; with a solidly diverse set, these boys have their reggae game on point. A number of Austin music folk had mentioned this band (wink wink, nudge nudge) saying they were not to miss; whether you are a hardcore reggae devotee or a casual listener. Good thing we took heed. Their show proved all-around masterful and thoroughly enjoyable. In my mind, reggae is something of a unique beast; hard to master while retaining a unique identity - or just very, very easy to screw up.. I'd be lying if I said I'd not encountered too many instances of the latter. Our boys made it look too easy. Leaning on elements of soul & R&B with a catchy electronic vibe, lead vocalist Jeremy and bassist-with-the-moves, Dane, traded off on vocals with infectious energy and a chill, happy vibe. I highly recommend their album Same Situation and if you're local to Austin, satisfy your reggae soul and catch a show. Much love to these locals; yet another group that makes Austin proud.
Here you'll find archived band, festival and concert stories... plus blog entries from Team dRiFFt as they travel, photograph, interview and adventure!