John Brown's Body - Jewish Mother - Virginia Beach - May 17, 2013

JBB’s live sound is often a sensory stealing experience (thanks to their dub style), and it’s one I wish I could live through more often.

Before getting into a review of this concert, it’s worth sidetracking and noting that eastern Virginia’s Jason Bruner (QuiVa Productions) has been booking concerts in the area for 13 solid years. This is a company that continues to bring the best jambands/blues/reggae/jamgrass/more to the region’s ears, and tonight’s John Brown’s Body performance was no different. This region has found a bedrock in QuiVa Productions’ efforts, and the scene wouldn’t be the same without it.

But, on to the show review! Tonight’s show started off with local reggae stalwarts (Session Rockers) performing from their roots/dub catalog. Following Session Rockers was the Sublime/311-esque style of The Movement. Both seemed to magnetize different sets of the audience, but there were certainly moments during both sets that tugged on everyone’s ears. Session Rockers comes with a force that is both humble and wise in its wording and musical approach, while The Movement brought more of a party atmosphere to the house and energized a very youthful segment of the crowd.

John Brown’s Body gets better every time I see them. This band is both prolific in their album releases and masterful in their live interpretations of those studio tracks. Studio recordings are exquisitely dubbed into wonderfully disjointed and down-paced versions of their original selves. While the originals tend to be grand creations, their live interpretations envelope the listener in heavy warps of rhythm, bass, and melody.

One of the night’s particularly mind-bending moments came with the second song of the night – “Step Inside.” Off of JBB’s most recent album (Kings and Queens), the bass and the vocals were so grindingly slow that immediate and effortless meditation overtook. JBB’s live sound is often a sensory stealing experience (thanks to their dub style), and it’s one I wish I could live through more often.

A mix of old and new tracks, highlights included the irie “What We Gonna Do,” “Old John Brown,” and the hard hitting “The Gold.” The entire night was a joyous occasion. I’ve seen John Brown’s Body more than a handful of times, and they’ve yet to slip. You truly cannot go wrong with JBB; from the rhythm section, to the melodies/harmonies of guitar/keys/horns, and Elliot Martin’s mic approach, reggae’s past still rings, and its still-forming future pulses lively.

- Jeremy Sanchez

- photo by Tobin Voggesser