Toubab Krewe, Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, Reckoning, Wadata
The Pour House
On most Wednesday nights, you can find local combo the Reckoning on the deck of the Pour House, playing Grateful Dead favorites to a tie-dyed crowd of PBR-drinkers. Their intimate shows, known by Pour House regulars as "the Dead on the deck," have a certain sense of community to them. On the deck, age is just a number, wild dancing is encouraged, and shoes are optional. It makes sense that their special act was on the ticket for the opening night of the Pour House anniversary weekend.
Keyboardist Ross Bogan, who played an earlier deck show with local funk band Wadata, joined the Reckoning guys at one point. His distinctive style gave the tribute a kick of originality, especially during soulful songs like "West L.A. Fade Away." Deck-dwellers dances with the Deadheads up front. Attendees watched artists paint murals out back and enjoyed the breezy show from tables. When "China Cat Sunflower" transitioned into "Shakedown Street," nearly everybody jumped to their feet and danced wildly.
The constant flow of music continued inside with Jonathan Scales Fourchestra. This four-man ensemble from Asheville was unlike anything I'd ever seen or heard. Frontman Scales stood center stage behind his two steel drums, wearing neon green sunglasses, a flatbill baseball cap, lace-up boots, and a shotgun shell belt. He played his drums like an electric keyboard, which gave it an unexpected flare of funk. He even said himself, "These may be steel drums, but I'm no Jimmy Buffet."
All eyes were on Scales early in the set, but once the band attracted a crowd from outside, Scales deflected the attention toward the rest of the band like a proud parent. At one point, everyone left the stage except for bassist Cody Wright, who performed an impressive solo that he had just done with Victor Wooten. Afterwards, the band returned for an intense driving number that really showed off drummer Phil Bronson, whose size complemented his colossal sound. Guitarist Duane "D-money" Simpson sat Michael Houser-style while he played on the edge of the stage. At one point, Scales stood on top of the speaker and watched his band play with his back to the crowd, queuing that he was lucky to have them — and that we were lucky to be seeing them.
By the end of the Fourchestra's set, the Pour House was packed. While the stage was set for Toubab Krewe, the crowd buzzed around to greet each other and converse with staff members like old friends. The playful, celebratory vibe that was started hours earlier on the deck clearly hadn't worn off yet. By the time everyone got a refill and a bathroom break, Toubab Krewe was ready to start.
Unlike their opening act, who prefaced each song with an anecdote, Toubab kept the talking to a minimum. They played two sets of mystifying Afro-pop to a sweaty audience that was determined to dance, no matter how crowded it got. Everyone seemed to be sharing their gratification for the Pour House. They congratulated the owners for their 10 successful years of business, and invited everyone back for "another very special night of music."