Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad – 04-27-2012 – The Tralf – Buffalo, NY

Friday Night in Buffalo felt like the perfect night for some Reggae for me, So I headed to the Tralf to catch Rochester, NY’s own Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad. Supporting them were the hometown boys of Slip Madigan. It was my first time seeing both bands, and walking in the vibe was great with Slip already on stage in the middle of a great jam. I caught the last 50 or so minutes of their set, and they were outstanding. I recommend seeing these guys often, as they play around town all the time. Giant Panda came on right before 10 and the place had filled quite a bit. They kicked off the show with a great segue between “Good to You” and “Healing”. These guys are an extremely tight group of multi-talented musicians that breathe a welcomed breath of fresh air into the Reggae world. At one point they introduced guitarist Dan Keller, from Tonawanda and he took the reigns on the next song, showing off another great voice in the band. A few songs later he was ripping a great sax solo, and even later on in the encore would see him taking over the keyboard duties in a great jam. Bassist James Searl does a good portion of the singing too, as well as being the backbone of the band with amazing basslines and energy out of this world for a bassist. The rhythm section of this band is so tight, they play off each other so well and the communication I witnessed was between them was great. The drummer Chris, reminds me a lot of Levon Helm in style and form. Towards the end of the set saw a great version of “Seasons Change” with what sounded a lot like a “Cross-eyed and Painless” tease in the long jam at the end. The set ended with a killer harmonica intro into “.45” by the keyboardist Aaron Lipp, and then later on, seeing him jump on electric lap steel guitar for an amazing jam. The Encore started off with a mellow, but fitting “Humboldt County Gold” and then we saw Aaron and Dan swap instruments for “Mystery Train” which was just the last bit of proof that this band is absolutely overflowing with talent. They traded off amazing solos throughout the song and left us all wanting more when it was over. They blew me away for my first show, and turned me into a HUGE fan that easily. They will be out touring the country all summer in support of their new albums “Country” and “In These Times,” both of which you can pick up right now at iTunes! Giant Panda is also in the middle of a residency at Rochester’s “Dubland Underground” for the next two Wednesdays, including tomorrow night, with Tickets available first come first serve at the door for $10 starting at 9pm. (Wed 5/2/12 and 5/9/12)

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By Cody