Story by Juliana Leal, Photos / Video in Boston by Empress K ReggaeReflection.com
Fresh off the heels of a successful coast-to-coast tour with Fortunate Youth and Stick Figure, Raging Fyah spent the last three months releasing their third studio album, rocking festival crowds, and touring Europe. Now they are touching American roads again, this time headlining their Everlasting Tour in support of the new album bearing the same name.
Released at the end of May, Everlasting is undoubtedly the crowning jewel of the band’s career so far. Recorded live at Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, it is the first LP of a multi-album deal recently signed with Dub Rockers, a modern reggae-focused, California based sub-division of VP Records.
Bassist Delroy ‘Pele’ Hamilton grounds the Raging Fyah sound throughout the album in his signature thick and deep, confidently syncopated bass grooves. Percussion is relentlessly stylistic and sophisticated. Musical director and keyboardist Demar ‘Demz’ Gayle delves deep into new sounds, particularly dub, as in the track “Raggamuffin:” the band’s proclamation of creating and playing music on their own terms - a straight raggamuffin ting while they “still a chant dung Rome.”
In true Fyah fashion, powerful lyrics are passionately delivered by vocalist Kumar Bent, wrapped tightly in sweet, rocksteady harmonies. Whether touching upon faith, love, inner strength, or the struggles of downtrodden peoples across waters and borders, every song offers a positive perspective even when questioning the world’s divisive status quo. The album is their first to feature outside artists, with collaborations by Hawaii’s J. Boog, in the easy breezy track “Live Your Life,” Jesse Royal in a true rockers tune, “Humble” (co-written by Jason Welsh, bassist in the super producing duo Notis), and the biggest surprise of the album: “Would You Love Me,” a dance track with heavy electronic influence, brought home by dancehall extraordinaire, Busy Signal.
The central theme of Everlasting is its unifying vision. This is wholesome, ital food for roots reggae fans worldwide, and it carves a mark for the band on the tree of timeless, ever-inspiring musicianship.
Holding a vibe with Boston, MA, and South Kingstown, RI
Somber electronic sounds layered with a solemn war time-like speech projected from the speakers at Brighton Music Hall on Tuesday, July 12th, as the six members of Raging Fyah took the stage for what would be an electrifying performance, extending well over two hours, to an insatiable crowd.
Boston was only the second stop on this 19-city trod, and at thirty minutes to showtime, band members roamed the venue floor, filled only to an estimated twenty percent capacity. The energy in the room was relaxed, as the audience floated between middle and back of the venue. Keyboardist Spyda was first to take the stage, pacing his corner, occasionally sipping from a plastic cup, telling of his energy building to deliver for the night. Bassy Pele, keyboardist Demz, lead guitarist Courtland ‘Gizmo’ White, drummer Shawn P. (substituting for original member Anthony Watson), and singer Kumar strolled to the stage so casually, most in the audience missed it. As the shadowy recording played in dimmed lights, band members swayed their bodies into gear.
At the sounding horns of title track “Everlasting,” the people tuned in. Cautiously moving at first, the band found their groove as they entered the first chorus. Kumar released his hands from the rhythm guitar, as he would do throughout the night, cupping the microphone, waving his arms to the melody, singing from the heart. The crowd was engaged now, smiles and dance moves feeling the heavy bass lines, the bounce of the keyboards, the subtle righteousness of Gizmo’s guitar, and Shawn’s flawless beat-keeping, pushing the energy of the studio version right into people’s bones. Before the last note was fully drowned out by claps and whistles, drums kicked in to the second tune, “Nah Look Back,” off their sophomore album Destiny. It was here that the audience caught the groove. Millennials and veteran raggamuffins alike skanked and grinned, strangers now friends, straight into “Step Outta Babylon.” No solo went unnoticed, as the crowd roared for every showcase. Suddenly, the energy in the room was one, and the venue felt plenty full.
A first pause between songs was taken as Kumar greeted the people right into “Irie Vibe,” with Demz and Spyda barely keeping hands on keys as their bodies swayed to the rhythm. Mid-song, Pele held the riddim for a choreographed dance break. The audience raved, sang along, and vibed straight into the spiritual, newly released single “Milk and Honey.” The chemistry between band members and their individual connection to each song jolted out of their bodies throughout the night. Raging Fyah is a solid band of skillful musicians who feed off the crowd’s energy and seamlessly tailor the show to this give and take. Boston gave much love, and the band received it with gratitude beamed on wide smiles.
The night shined on with jammed-on-the-spot deep dub sounds, dancehall breaks, ska vibes, and Gizmo’s wailing guitar for fans to cut loose. Whenever Kumar teased the crowd with, “OK, we’re going home now!” the audience, now glued to the stage, cried out, “one more, one more!” The band obliged with flirty, summer tunes like “Ready for Love,” “Dash Wata,” “Happiness” - all off Everlasting, and even the soulful ballad “Brave.” The night ended on sky high notes with baaad to the bone “Raggamuffin,” and uplifting “Barriers,” and “I and I.” Raging Fyah kept the vibes way up, cool and lively, and the crowd raged as they folded in for a group hug before finally leaving the stage.
Before heading to the heart of the country, they played a second New England show two nights later, at South Kingstown, Rhode Island’s Ocean Mist Bar; a sea-side venue well accustomed to drawing solid crowds with respect and appreciation for reggae music. Fans filled the club early, and while the Rhode Island set was a standard two hour, the band hit the stage raging, and in true Fyah Squad form, kept the crowd clapping, jumping, and skanking along, never missing a beat, always keeping up the vibe, and sharing all the best Jamaican music has to offer.
With performances like these, planting seeds of genuine upfulness and unity, expect Raging Fyah to grace more - and bigger - stages and airwaves worldwide. Catch them on this Everlasting Tour - it’s a cyaan miss, massive.
Raging Fyah Boston Photo Slideshow
Raging Fyah Video Highlights in Boston
A Reflection in Time
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