Michael Franti spent most of the pandemic with his wife Sara and his two-year-old son Taj at Soulshine their holistic retreat in Ubud, Bali. After traveling as a musician for decades, he was forced to stay in one place. Franti emerged laser focused to spread positivity to people that have been yearning for it during these challenging times.
Since Red Rocks Amphitheatre capacity increased from 2,500 to 6,500, Franti was able to donate one thousand tickets to his shows over the weekend to front line workers, people who lost jobs or family members due to the pandemic. He was also able to run through the rain soaked smiling crowd giving everyone a front row seat.
After a short rain delay, Michael Franti and Spearhead took the stage as the storm just passed over the amphitheatre. They performed songs of hope and gratitude including Life Is Amazing, Good Sh*t Happens, and Good Day for a Good Day. All that being said, Franti informed the audience that no matter where he goes in the world, his most requested song is Ganja Babe. Of course, the 420 fans cheered while he played the reggae style number while cartoon characters illuminated the big video screen behind the stage.
The mood changed during Franti’s introduction to The Flower. He spoke about Wear Orange Weekend that was taking place. People were asked to show solidarity by wearing the color orange that represent those that have been impacted by gun violence. During the song the screen behind the band scrolled through all the mass shooting in the United States since the Columbine shooting in Littleton, Colorado in 1999. The music ended before the list was over.
Franti appeared in the middle of the amphitheatre to introduce the song I’m on Your Side. He declared, “The one thing the pandemic has taught us it that we all need each other.” He asked people who lost anyone over the last year to raise their hand. Tears were flowing as Franti sang, “If you ever lay awake at night/Wondering if we’ll be alright/ I’m on your side/I’m on your side.” The night ended with the band taking a bow while John Lennon’s Imagine played. A tradition they started before the pandemic. It was a night of celebrating and healing. Just what the rain soaked music lovers needed.
Satsang from Red Lodge, Montana was a perfect choice to open the show. It was the band’s debut performance at the historical venue. Bassist Karl Roth was clearly in a state of awe as he looked up from the stage. Their name is from a South Asia word that means gathering together for the truth. That’s what lead singer Drew McManus delivered to the welcoming crowd. Their combination of reggae and roots music echoed off the rocks beautifully. McManus sang about life in Montana, family, and making peace with the past. He was also celebrating his wedding anniversary that same night. McManus met his wife while working at a coffee shop and she was getting her doctorate. Looks like the couple has made it work for eleven years. Satsang’s new album All.Right.Now. was released on 06/04/21.
See you at the next show. I’ll be the rain soaked one by your side.