Manhattan buzzed with the anticipation on the first Friday of Spring. People lined the outside of Hammerstein Ballroom to see reggae/rock/punk band Slightly Stoopid. Security gave me a thorough search before entering the venue. “Empty your pockets please,” the female guard said. I pulled my cell phone out of my left pocket, and my keys and lighter out of my right. “Sorry,” she said taking the lighter from my palm and throwing into a pile of confiscated fire, “Go ahead in.”
As I stepped into the skunk smelling lobby, I was welcomed by the familiar soulful sound of opener Quincy Mumford and the Reason Why from Asbury Park, NJ. After a quick 30 minute set, the band Tribal Seeds took the stage and gave the venue a more punk/reggae feel.
I settled into the mezzanine section right at the end of Tribal Seeds set. At 9:30 PM, all seven members of Slightly Stoopid took the stage to a roaring crowd. “You ready to get stoopid?” front men Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald call out to their fans.
The opening song was their single “Don’t Stop” off of the album Top of the World released in 2012. Traditional reggae palm muted guitar riffs filled Hammerstein as clouds of smoke rose from parts of the crowd. As soon as Slightly told everyone to “light it and put it in the air,” at the beginning of “Anywhere I Go,” the entire GA area began to glow with the sparking of blunts, joints, and bowls and there I was… without a lighter.
Conga drums (played by Oguer “OG” Ocon) and the horn section (DeLa & Karl Denson on saxophone and C-Money on trumpet) gave the ganja filled venue that psychedelic San Diego feel New York City needed after a long winter.
It was during the song “Wicked Rebel” when I realized how incredibly short all of Slightly Stoopid’s songs are. Before you knew it, they moved on to “Somebody” off of the album Closer to the Sun (2008). With that glimpse of Slightly’s heavier side, the punks in the crowd created a swirling mosh pit in the center of the floor like an eye of a storm.
The show constantly changed moods, switching from heavy to calm, punk to reggae, acoustic to electric. One of my favorite moments was when the song “Closer to The Sun” was played mid set. It was sang and played so beautifully and smiles were on every face surrounding me and we all calmly swayed to the sweet song. This peaceful moment was then followed by Slightly’s trashing rendition of Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings”. “Rest in Peace Kurt, we miss you,” Doughty said as the song ended.
Slightly Stoopid played most of their hits such as “Running with a Gun” and “Officer” before leaving the stage briefly. The encore began with a quiet cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire”. I was pleased to finally hear “Collie Man”, a personal favorite. They closed out the entire show with the song “We Don’t Wanna Go” which was almost too appropriate before they left the stage.
As the stoned audience members walked out of Hammerstein, I noticed the differences in age. They ranged anywhere from 15 to 40 years-old and all seemed more than satisfied with the show they just saw. But let’s be real, who doesn’t enjoy music about weed, sunshine, and good times? It’s concerts like Slightly Stoopid’s that show us that reggae music can be universally loved and is the perfect medicine for the Winter blues.
Check out a couple of videos from the show, courtesy of Marc Millman:
“I’m On Fire”: