Pepper, Grieves, RDGLDGRN
September 19 at The National
“Do not be afraid of the Pepper! The people want the Pepper.” --Dana Carvey, Saturday Night Live
On September 19, 2013, the fans in Richmond did indeed want the Pepper, and these Pepper boys, from Kona, Hawaii via Southern, California, gave Richmond the “perfect amount of Pepper!” After signing with Island Records, performing on Jimmy Kimmel this past July, and releasing their sixth album, Pepper has been on a 36 city headlining U.S. tour. Their form of reggae/rock is unique and quite infectious. Pepper doesn’t just put on a show, they make the audience a part of the performance. Their laid back Hawaiian style is so comfortable that you feel as if you personally know them, and the interaction with the performer just becomes natural.
The show opened with RDGLDGRN (pronounced: “Red Gold Green”) from Reston, Virginia. They impressed the fans with their indie/punk style hip hop, and really got the crowd up and moving. Their unique fusion of these genres makes for a quite energetic act; these guys can do it all. If you get a chance, see their show--it’s a flashback to old school hip-hop. They played almost every song off of their album,Red Gold Green, which just happens to feature Dave Grohl on drums. Yeah, buy the album and then go see them. You won't be disappointed.
The second act was Grieves, from Seattle, Washington. I have seen Grieves play on Warped Tour and at Kingdom, and I was eager to hear his band play a larger venue. Grieves began the set with a fan favorite, “Sunny Side of Hell,” off the albumTogether/Apart, and continued with songs like “Whoa Is Me” and “Boogie Man.” His rhythmic poetry seems to soothe one’s soul, offering cheap therapy for those facing the daily conflicts of life. The fans were all singing along, reeling in the effect of the lyrical verse. Grieves continues to grow as a rap artist, and it has been great to see him bring the vibrant Seattle rap scene to Virginia so many times over the past few years.
Pepper came on stage at 10 P.M. and did not disappoint, playing 24 songs pretty much nonstop. Their set lasted over two hours. It started with “Stormtrooper,” off of the album Kona Town, and the fans sang this reggae/rock hit right from the first note. They played fan favorites like “Love Affair,” “Crazy Love,” “No Control,” and “Stone Love” that had everyone swaying and dancing. They also played six songs--“Higher Ground,” “F**k Around,” “These Hands,” “Illuminate You,” “Hunny Girl,” and “Undone”--off of their new album, and best yet, PEPPER. It would have been just fine with me if they played the whole album. It is so well crafted that there are songs that will satiate the old school fans, as well as bringing in a more diverse sound to captivate new fans. Listen after listen, it continues to grow on you. They have perfected the highly sensual art of grinding alternative music with reggae and rock. Guitarist Kaleo Wassman and bassist Bret Bollinger mesmerized the crowd with their beautiful harmonies on an acoustic version of their new song “Undone.” You could hear the fans singing along with all of the new songs too. Either these are some really hardcore fans, or the album is just that good. Knowing these guys, maybe it’s both.
I had the opportunity to ask Yesod Williams (drums/vocals) some questions:
How was having Matt Wallace (Maroon 5, O.A.R., Faith No More) produce your new album?
It was like going to college! We learned so much and at the same time made an amazing friend for life.
How is the new album different from your other albums?
It is way better, in my opinion! It’s the only record we've made where we are still listening to it months after we made it. It is still growing on us.
How was the recording process different with this album?
It was more involved. We were crafting songs and we really weren’t going to rest until it was perfect to us.
How has the tour been going so far?
Amazing! We’re just so happy to be back on the road after so long. We miss everyone!
Well, Pepper, Richmond missed you too. We want to give you a big Mahalo for stopping by.
Stand and Fall
Point and Shoot
Like Your Style
Bring Me Along
F**k Around (Mess Around)