Into the Mystic
Local reggae faves Mystic Roots play a farewell show at the Brick
Something familiar has been uprooted.
Chico’s own Mystic Roots bade the town farewell Thursday night with a final concert, costing a mere $5, at The Brick Works, where the band steamed through an assorted mix of material from its past, as well as some tunes off its forthcoming album. It was something of an all-encompassing musical journey, suffused in an appropriate bluish light and serving as a capstone to a successful big fish/small pond career.
And there was no age limit. This was a show for everybody, from preteens to the watchful mothers who drove them there, and the remaining college students the post-academic summer season left behind. (And one toddler, in a Baby Gap shirt.)
But first, opener Pyrx took the stage, a raucous, occasionally Chili Peppers/Sublime-esque band, who alternated hip-hop and reggae, occasionally tapping into some rock, highlighted by a lingering, ear-piercing wah-wah from the lead guitar. There was no shortage of wah.
The vocals were divided up amongst band members. They also rapped together, every word the same, precise, which could’ve come out sounding overdone and cluttered. In Pyrx’s case, though, the layered sound got about as close to harmony as was possible, with two guys simultaneously shouting into microphones. It was unexpected and it worked. There was nothing cluttered about it.
For the uninitiated, some of the songs had a tendency to blend together, but as it turned out this wasn’t a bad thing. The blend was calculated and polished, and by the end of the set the audience, crowded into the circular wooden room, had taken note of the group and was moving right along to Pyrx’s exuberant antics.
Then the Roots came on and went to work.
“Thank you, Chico, for coming out to our farewell show,” the Roots said, repeatedly. “Give thanks for the positive vibes.”
And the vibes were indeed positive, with the crowd consistently shouting its approval and clapping its hands and singing and smiling and dancing right along, thanking the Roots right back. The band, which boasts that it is “bringing reggae to the forefront of American culture,” had nothing left to prove.
The Roots, who produce dynamic, varied music in a variety of styles (including rock, ska and the aforementioned reggae) were in good form, and you could feel it, literally. You could feel it in the chest, the head and in the legs, thanks to the acoustics of the room and the energy and force rooted in the percussion, a two-man endeavor. And it just propelled people to dance more and dance harder, even the girl who showed up on crutches, even the moms, the celebratory goodbye going on without a hitch.
The band played song after song, many of which seemed familiar to the appreciative crowd, producing rambling guitar solos and blaring horn solos and stunning vocal exhibitions, every once in a while accentuated by a duet, a subtle harmony, a cascade of notes outside of the common citizen’s range.
Within the songs, the tempos varied so much that, just when you thought you could sit back, take a break and appreciate a slower tune, it would pick right up and there you’d be, more movement required, more sweat trickling down your forehead.
With the fond farewell, the Chico music scene will be diminished. American culture, or, at the very least, Northern California culture is the better for the Mystic Roots long and distinguished Chico tenure.
Here’s hoping—and it can’t be said enough—that the musicians don’t forget their roots.