Pepper Brings The Beach To The Concrete Jungle

November 26, 2014
Irving Plaza-New York, NY

It was a night full of funky beats and feel good music on Wednesday in New York City. Pepper headlined the show at Irving Plaza with The Movement and New Beat Fund opening up the night. The floor slowly started filling up around 7:00 and was almost full by the time Los Angeles band New Beat Fund went on at 8:00. They ran through their set with a fun and funky sound. Signs bearing their name in neon lights along with brightly painted amps and gear set the stage for their performance. A blend of punk rock, reggae, and hip-hop, New Beat Fund packed a psychedelic punch of energy that matched their eclectic sound. Each The Movement (1)member moved continuously around the stage, sending purple and green hair flying. There was a lot of air between New Beat Fund and the stage as they jumped, moved and kicked while feverishly playing their instruments. This didn’t include the drummer of course, as he needed to be seated. They played their latest single, It’s Cool which seemed to tell the story of missing an ex. The lyric “I know we’re not together, but it’s cool while you’re here” spoke to New Beat Fund’s laid back mentality, and the laid back feel of the entire night.
The Movement had much more of a reggae sound but infused it with rock, and fans ate it up. The Movement was the perfect segway into the type of relaxed, beachy music Pepper would play soon after. Unlike New Beat Fund and Pepper, The Movement wasn’t formed in a sunny paradise. While they could have fooled audience members with their sun-streaked island sound, they are originally from Columbia, South Carolina. Their soothing sound seemed like it belonged somewhere on the West Coast where surfers would be humming along and bopping their heads to the alternative reggae. The Movement got right into Hola and followed it up with tracks like Moonshine, Scream, Echo and Green Girl. Joshua Swain is on guitar and vocals with Gary Jackson on drums. Bassist and vocalist Jason “Smiles” Schmidt’s long dreadlocks swung back and forth with every movement he made. About mid-set he bowed his head down and began wildly swinging his hair in a circular motion. He definitely attracted a lot of attention with his at times mellow, then explosive mannerisms. No one knew what to expect next as he let the musicPepper (3) simply move him. Near the end of their set they covered California band Sublime’s Get Ready to the delight of the audience. Fans sang along to every word as clouds of smoke drifted upward from the audience.
Pepper took the stage to a roaring crowd that had been anxiously awaiting them. The band hails from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, hence the description of their music as Kona Dub Rock. There was a positive vibe emanating from the stage as soon as they went into their first song, Ashes. Bassist Bret Bollinger kept his sunglasses on throughout the entire set while he and vocalist/guitarist Kaleo Wasman spread the spirit of Hawaii throughout the venue. The audience was an even mix of men and women and everyone seemed to be enjoying the party, because a party is exactly what it felt like. Songs played included Crazy Love, Stone Love, Illuminate, and a new song titled, Every Little Thing. Just as the word love is in a few of Pepper’s song titles, love was in the room at Irving Plaza. Towards the end of their set, vocalist and guitarist Kaleo Wasman stated that it was time to “take it back old school” as he requested the lights be dimmed down so that security couldn’t tell who was doing what in the crowd. He then encouraged the obliging audience to light up “their favorite New York contraband”, and so they did. Security remained at bay and Pepper continued to rock the audience in almost total darkness.
Review by: Ashley Rodriguez


New Beat Fund

The Movement