Members of SOJA feat. Pete Wall

Highland Tap & Burger
Denver, CO

Words By J-man
Photos By Carly Marthis

Sure, it sounds unbelievable... Members of the world renowned reggae band, SOJA (who played Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Sunday) would be hosting an evening at The Highland Tap & Burger? This is precisely what happened Monday in Denver's Lower Highlands. Nestled into the beautiful neighborhood overlooking the Denver skyline, we arrived at The Tap to find a touring class bus parked in the dirt parking lot next to the row of businesses. It was an odd site for any small neighborhood, and clued me in to how the evening may unfold. Inside the Tap there was a different crowd from our typical music nights. These folks were sporting dreadlocks and reggae t-shirts. It was a nice change of pace. Following the fairly extensive set up of gear, it was time to plug in and fire up.

A night of acoustic covers, is not so much my forte, in fact I expected it to be somewhat lost on me. With the energy that grew and the addition of special guest Pete Wall (Particle, Textiles), as well as special guests off of the SOJA bus, I stood corrected. On guitar was Trevor Young, on percussion was Kenny Bongos with the help of their roadie. Reaching back to mainly the 90s, what followed was an extensive two sets, fueled by the energy of the crowd, the excitement of the band and a plethora of light beers and shots. Four chord rhythm collided with fantastic percussion and raging tenor and soprano solos. It was clear that the band was excited by Pete's ability as he matched tones and dropped insane fills.

Highlights of the performance included The Police's "Message In A Bottle," Sublime's "Doin' Time" and "Badfish," Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," Dave Matthews' "Tripping Billies" and so many more. For many, it's easy to write off an evening of acoustic covers, but that night was special. The packed crowd received the project with thunderous applause and vocal support throughout the show. At one point in the evening there was a full horn section, multiple percussionists and looping guitar. It made for a full sound in such an intimate room!

As the wild evening drew down in the Highlands, people continued to celebrate what was actually a Monday? In the we hours of the morning, folks departed from the Tap with smiles on their faces, for those in attendance witnessed something special that evening. Where else in this beautiful town can you see a band at Red Rocks one night and a small bar the next? That evening was a clear indicator of the think big approach that the music showcases have taken on. Did we mention it was free?

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