I typically don’t dabble in the reggae scene much minus a brief stint on spring break following The Movement when I was 19, but the hype around this band had me intrigued. Originally from Santa Cruz, The Expendables, who have shared the stage with the likes of Slightly Stoopid, Pepper, No FX, and Less Than Jake, are just four buddies who love to surf, skate, and make beautiful music. Thirteen years and 5 albums later, these guys have mastered the art of pleasing fans, and sure enough delivered on this stop of the Winter Blackout Tour.
Heading into The Loft I couldn’t help but enjoy the group of all too giggly fans’ question, “What’s up with this elevator?” as we waited in line for the pay to park kiosk. The cloudy room drew a quaint gathering of no more than 150 people who couldn’t help but all lean a bit to the side and who proudly sported their dreads and joints in honor of the night’s entertainment.
Openers included Seedless, a Reggae/Rock band from the heart of Orange County, and Stick Figure, whose melody, “Weight of Sound”, was one of my favorite portions of the evening. The Expendables hit the stage shortly after, opening with “Sacrifice” and a friendly request of the audience from Geoff Weers, rocking a fairly new and might I add impressive mane, for all hands to the sky. A few more simple, yet catchy reggae tracks came to follow including “Last Call” and “Sensimilla,” but my attention really spiked when the tempo picked up into a more punk rock feel with “We’re Taking Over.”
The band’s engagement and chemistry with the crowd left me with no doubts as to the dedication of their following. I was hardly surprised when the fans began cheering and nearly rioting uncontrollably at the first faint notes of their hit, “Down, Down, Down.” The crowd was prompted shortly thereafter to echo the band’s vocals with the “three simple words” which I now realize probably should have been a request for just one simple word.
The acoustic “Wells” absent G. Love, who sits in on the recorded version, slowed the lone crowd surfer down a bit, but the energy picked right back up as the guys asked us showgoers, “How many of you tonight have smoked 10,000 joints? Taken way too many shots? And drank too much red, red wine.” Quite the epic segway into a memorable rendition of, well in case you missed the clue “Red, Red, Wine.” The guys proceeded to include some small talk about our amazing 70 degree weather we were having as they progressed into “Positive Mind.”
As the show came to a close Weer asked the crowd what they wanted to hear for the final song, everyone in the building knowing damn well that the Expendables weren’t about to leave a gig haven’t not played “Bowl for Two.” They even divided the crowd for “the stoner Olympics” as half the room sang, “I pack this bowl for two” and the other half echoed “I just want to smoke it with you.” And for the grand finale Seedless and Stick Figure were brought back on stage, along with a joint all the artists had no shame passing around, for a cover of “Ganja Smuggling” by reggae legend, Eeka Mouse.