Toots and the Maytals, Avalon, March 28, 2007
The frats were out in force at the Toots show at Avalon Wednesday night. Or was it all just an extended Dave Matthew’s flashback? Though the crowd skewed more preppie and hippie than rudie, they knew their shit, screaming the words to "Reggae Got Soul" and "Monkey Man" with a giddy fervor that lent a family-reunion feel to a show that hit all the classics. Decked in full leathers, Toots prowled the stage, paunchy but passionate, channeling James Brown and Bono in equal measure. He alternated between mentor and ringmaster, commanding the audience to memorize and contemplate the words of "Rivers of Babylon," confident of his place in their hearts but not above goofing off for a quick laugh or surge of applause. His voice remains soulful and versatile, easily arcing from the mournful wail of "Pressure Drop" to the indignant growl of "54-46."
The Maytals Band was tight and relaxed as usual, letting Toots and his hot, hot backup singers fill the stage, playing off his antics and abrupt tempo shifts with prescient grace. Unfortunately, the crowd wasn’t as tuned in, and what started as a few stage crashers during the encore turned into a rush of Coors-swilling students jerking awkwardly offbeat before the bemused musicians and irate security. Baldhead, yu nuh champion. Tap dat fuckery!
Opening act the Fear Nuttin Band started off slowly, but got the crowd off its feet and in the air by the time they finished. Their mixture of metal and Marley, fusing roots reggae and dancehall with hardcore and rap, creates an acoustic bastard child that’s lively, hilarious, and irresistibly danceable.
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