Concert Review: iLa Mawana at Purdy Lounge, May 20

iLA Mawana
Purdy Lounge, Miami Beach
Thursday, May 20, 2010

Better Than:
Another predictable round of classics with The Wailers. Yea, I said it.

The Review:

A city drenched in dubstep could always use a breather. Thursday night, Lance O. and the kids from Kulcha Shok welcomed Boston-based reggae octet iLA Mawana for a relaxing serving of dub and Afrobeat at Purdy Lounge. The soundtrack was ideal for the Third Thursdays bash, which features live music, comped cocktails for ladies, and surfing videos plastered on a projector. Sure, an extensive rush of gals aligned the bar, but those who love to skank -- or perhaps a more watered-down version of movement -- hit the dance floor for one sensual, feel-good concert.

iLA Mawana took to the floor for its Miami debut -- Purdy's not too

keen on stages, but live bands deliver with resonating, level sound.

Half the crew was clad in straw fedoras, stylishly celebrating the

week-old release of the group's debut album, Soldiers of Sound.

Including, of course, the title track, the clan played a clean, organic

set of uplifting tunes, where drums flirted with bass and horns and the

vocals seduced. "Green Bridge" particularly displayed the band's talent

for storytelling, both lyrically and instrumentally, bringing a depth

to the group's organic dub sound.

As in any live music experience, the musicians' chemistry was

intriguing, but iLA would make any chick declare her horniness for

horns. "Frankly" was suitably brass-heavy, with an upbeat sound like a

timeless groove plucked from a late-night beach party.

Gianpaolo Blower, though, is a real standout of this act, luring in

listeners with a serene, calming croon, with hints of both Bob Marley

and even Bobby McFerrin. It was a don't - worry - be - happy kind of

mood overall, especially when the band launched into several whimsical

covers. One of these was  "Yellow Submarine," which organist Jason

Moore dedicated to his father. iLA concluded the show with a bit of

nostalgic dessert: "Pure Imagination," with Blower cheerfully belting

the lyrics to the Willy Wonka soundtrack classic.
By the Way: As

part of an eight-city Florida tour, iLA Mawana heads to Sarasota Friday

night. But definitely plan on a few damn good microbrews and an even

more intimate set Saturday night at Boca's Funky Buddah Lounge. A

double dose of irie? Yes, mon.

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Tracy Block

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