Concert Review: iLa Mawana at Purdy Lounge, May 20

Categories: Concert Review
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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.
Vocalist 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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