January 30, 2005
The Lounge Lizards stage wasn't big enough to hold The Uppressors and the energy of lead singer Reuben Williams Sunday night. The eight-piece Reggae/Soul band from Thibodeaux barely fit their two back-up vocalists, guitarist, bassist, percussionist, pianist and drummer up there. They also had a smoke machine and two grounded, colored concert lights. At least the quality of The Uppressors' music validated their large production(by Lounge Lizards standards).
Williams ran back and forth in front of the stage as he hunched over to draw from the back of his throat and strike Jesus Christ poses worthy of stadiums. The band was seasoned and tight anyway, but Willams' energy and enjoyment of the music sold The Uppressors to me. Williams made an effort to share his Robert Plant range with guitarist Josh Turnage and drummer Stuart Smith, but it was unfortunate the two turned down duets. The two back-up singers had beautiful voices as well, and they were useful when Williams improvised and didn't sing every lyric.
The Uppressors formed during the Summer of 2003, and since then they have released two albums of original material. Onstage, they mixed up these songs with genre-jumping covers that showed their influences and traced the origins of The Uppressors' diverse sound. The band even brought up a Native-American friend to beat a drum.
The Uppressors broke out a Reggae-infused version of The Smiths' "Girlfriend in a Coma" that was slowed down and actually sadder than the original. Another song that got the Reggae treatment was Pink Floyd's "Breathe." It showed me that some Reggae and pyschedelic Rock bands share positive energy. It wasn't such a stretch. The band's trump cards were Bob Marley's "One Love" and "Get Up, Stand Up," which the band played with a huge passion and sound. The room filled with a perfect mixture of voices and instruments--a tour de force. The Uppressors' originals had a Reggae influence, but they were funkier and more rockin'. They even threw in a nice spiritual.
I had two problems with the music: 1. The conga player was dead weight. He was drowned out, and he was spunk-less. 2. The keyboardist, drummer and guitarist looked like they were going through the motions.
The band had ten people from their hometown for support, and then there were the usual stragglers and conventioneers checking out bars. The crowd enjoyed the music, as did I. Thanks to Williams, it went over well and showed me there's soul in Thibodeaux.