Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Green at the Gramercy Theatre

Fellow Hawaiian Kimie (left) offered guest vocals
with the Green on one song.
Virtually every tropical island has its own brand of reggae, and Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands is no exceptions. After cousins Caleb Keolanui (vocals) and JP Kennedy (guitar, vocals) ended their previous band, Next Generation, they recruited Ikaika Antone (keyboards, vocals) and Zion Thompson (guitar, vocals), who performed together in the band Stir Crazy, to form the Green in 2009. In time, they recruited Brad “BW” Watanabe (bass) and Jordan Espinoza (drums). The Green’s self titled debut album was released in February 2010, was named iTunes Best Reggae Album of 2010, and set a record by staying on the Billboard Reggae Chart for 69 weeks. The Green's second album, Ways & Means, spent four weeks at the top of Billboard's Reggae Chart in May 2011, and won Best Reggae Album at Hawaii’s 2011 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. The band’s third album, 2013’s Hawai’i ‘13, also topped the Billboard Reggae Albums Chart, selling 4,960 copies in its first week of release.

At the Gramercy Theatre tonight, the Green featured four soulful lead singers, sometimes more than one per song, to good effect. The music was combined 1970s-style dub-heavy roots reggae with rock guitars, radio-friendly pop and even a bite-size taste of indigenous Hawaiian musical traditions and lyrical references.  Some songs punched and some songs swayed, some were made for dancing and many more were made for romance, but from the disparate composers’ styles simmered a cohesive and harmonious blend of island sounds. This smooth set may not have satisfied reggae purists, but the 50th State’s forefront reggae band impressed a broader audience with an ingenuous crossover mix of modern pop reggae, Hawaiian style.

Visit the Green at