Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pepper at Irving Plaza

Vocalist/guitarist Kaleo Wassman and vocalist/bassist Bret Bollinger were friends since middle school in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. Playing a combination of dancehall, reggae, hip-hop, and pop, they formed Pepper in 1996 and convinced drummer Yesod Williams to join the band. Pepper relocated in 1999 to San Diego, California. Pepper released its sixth studio album, Pepper, in 2013.

Pepper brought sunny beach rhythms to a cold winter night at Irving Plaza tonight. Originating from a simple combination of vocals, guitar and rhythm section, Pepper's music surfed a wave of grooves and melodies. The sparse, flowing sound allowed for audio clarity and so encouraged dancing and singing along. To the trio's credit, the variety of influences prevented the musicians from sounding repetitive, but this undercurrent also tugged away from the band attaining a uniquely signature sound. The buoyant songs ranged from soft reggae and funk to hard-edged guitar rock, always sounding clean and direct, even when the lyrics were not as wholesome. Pepper was all about diving into a lively party spirit that did not require the bar to serve drinks with little umbrellas.

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