There is no harder-working front man than Da General from De Lions of Jah, a reggae group out of Jacksonville that played the Friday concert last week. If Da General could bottle and sell that energy, he’d be a wealthy man. He is a human Red Bull. I personally would buy a lifetime supply.
De Lions kill roots reggae and hip hop. I mean, they attack it and kill it while the mob screams for more. They’re a party band, loud, insistent, and after the show I realized I had understood maybe five words, but who cares? I don’t go to a Chinese opera expecting to understand it, either. You get caught up in the supersonic wave of sound and you ride it. De Lions aren’t a band that you want to analyze anyway. I heard the word “love” a few times, shouted, and that ended my comprehension.
It hardly mattered.
De Lions do what they do very well. I’ve not seen another band that can take a beat and wrestle it to the ground the way they do. On the way down, that beat is shaken, pummelled, throttled, and thrashed, leading me to liken De Lions to thrash metal for the frenzied way the crowd reacts and for the whirlwind Da General becomes when the music reaches a certain pulse. De Lions make dervishes out of people. These dervishes whirl and flail and contort their bodies into such shapes that one might be excused for thinking the people were having either a collective liberation of conscious inhibition or were experiencing a religious epiphany.
On stage, Da General’s face was a stream of sweat, so much so that it reflected the light and appeared metallic. He reminded me of a professional athlete, lunging towards a goal, with the crowd roaring behind him. When the set was finished, I swear I saw steam rising off the stage.
De Lions appear to have little in the way of a publicity machine. They have a messy-looking MySpace page but no Web site. There’s a Facebook page under “Music” that has 21 friends and nothing from the band itself. This is a shame because it’s going to keep them local. They’d be a great opening act for a stadium band and if they don’t get the crowd going, the crowd must be full of the uptight and those that abjure pleasure. In short, if De Lions don’t get you going, there’s something wrong with you. I can think of no better way to get yer jah-jah’s out. The uptight may stay at home throttled by their neckties.