words and photos by Greg Cristman
The Congos & Sun Araw Band / Lee "Scratch" Perry
Once again, the Red Bull Music Academy put on an amazing one-of-a-kind presentation in New York, this time to a sold out Le Poisson Rouge crowd last Thursday (5/30). The evening was called NYC in Dub and featured performances by the iconic Lee "Scratch" Perry who was teamed up against On-U sound label head and influential producer Adrian Sherwood, the legendary The Congos, who versed experimental indie rockers Sun Araw and M Geddes Gengras (all three of who collaboratred on an album last year), and an opening set by Future Times (aka Maxmillion Dunbar and Protect-U) and Peaking Lights. An elaborate and very crowded stage set up was brought in along with the massive Sub Atomic Soundsystem that shook the building to its core with thick heavy dub bass and rhythms.
This was one of the most amazing reggae shows I've seen in quite some time and may have been the best Lee Perry performance I've ever seen. At 77 he's still going strong and is as eclectic and crazy as ever, continually igniting his disposable lighter and running his fingers, hands and even boots through the flame, whipping towels around his head and dousing himself with water. He performed many of his classics, including "War Inna Babylon," that had most of the audience singing along. The Congos vs. Sun Araw set was equally enjoyable with Sun Araw delivering an incredible dub backdrop for the three Congos singers. They delivered a set culled mainly from their first album, the 1977 reggae masterpiece Heart Of The Congos (produced by Lee Perry), including the classic tracks "Fisherman," "Congoman" and "La-La Bam Bam." Future Times and Peaking Lights combined for an approach to dub that was more rooted in electronic and techno and they often reminded me a little bit of Lee Perry collaborator The Orb.
Pictures of the show, including shots of the setlists for the Lee Perry/Adrian Sherwood and The Congos/Sun Araw sets, are in this post. They continue below...
The Congos vs. Sun Araw
Lee Scratch Perry vs. Adrian Sherwood