Originally published online at ocregister.com on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2007
On its commercial recordings – including the band's forthcoming "Chronichitis" – San Diego's Slightly Stoopid delivers a breezy and reggae-tinged catalog in tune with sonic forebearers such as Sublime and Sugar Ray.
Performing before a capacity crowd at Pacific Amphitheatre on Saturday (Aug. 4, 2007), songs such as "Officer," "Mr. Music" and "Wicked Rebel" retained the feel-good reggae grooves heard on disc although several of the songs played by the band were rendered unrecognizable by an overpowering mix in favor of the bass guitar and so many reverb- and echo-styled effects on the vocals.
But for the party-minded crowd on their feet moving to the beat much of the night, the band's 75-minute set was the perfect backdrop to drink, chat and celebrate a Saturday night. Slightly Stoopid's loosely-delivered set did feature some serious music making, as evidenced by an artful jam ("Nobody Knows"), a punk rock exhibit ("Operation") and a night-ending "Baby I Like It" featuring G. Love joining the band to infuse the tune with some blistering blues harmonica work.
While Slightly Stoopid's sound is built mostly around reggae, ska and punk, G. Love and Special Sauce similarly have found a way to fuse blues, R&B and rap together with winning results. During an hour-long set, G. Love showcased his skills as singer, guitarist and harmonica whiz; that he has such a fine supporting cast in Special Sauce (drummer Jeffrey Clemens, bassist Jimi Jazz and keyboardist Mark Boyce) was driven home across the hip-hop meets blues of "Cold Beverages" and a reggae-tinged "Back of the Bus." The ensemble also explored classic rock with a straightforward version of the Beatles "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?" and folk territory when guest Tristan Prettyman joined G. Love on stage to deliver an acoustic version of "Beautiful" that was featured on 2006's "Lemonade."
Ozomatli opened the show with an energetic 40-minute set that clearly impressed those who arrived in time to catch the L.A. outfit's blend of Latin salsa, hip-hop, rock and jazz-funk.
The large ensemble has always been powerful in a concert setting, but this outing displayed Ozomatli's burgeoning skills as songwriters. Newer material – notably the Latin rock-styled "Can't Stop," breezy R&B gem "After Party" and rap-anchored "City of Angels" from the new CD "Don't Mess with the Dragon" – placed effective melodies and choruses alongside the plethora of percussion instruments, horns, guitars and sing-alongs that have been a key part of Ozomatli since the group was formed more than a decade ago.