Some bands come through San Luis Obispo, play one show and are on a tour bus to the next venue within hours. But reggae band Iration, who are winding down a two-month tour, is taking its time and playing two shows at SLO Brewing Co. tonight and tomorrow.
Bassist Adam Taylor said Iration loves playing here, and the band thought it was a perfect place to end a long run of shows.
“It’s a market that’s kind of grown with us as we’ve grown as a band,” Taylor said. “Since it’s so close to us, we wanted to end the tour with SLO because it’s a place that we all love, and we wanted to make it special. So we decided to do two shows. It’s a good place to end — a coming home show.”
The tour, which the band spent half with Rebelution and the other half of as headliners, has taken Iration across the U.S.
“The last two shows with Rebelution were awesome — we did two at House of Blues in Chicago,” Taylor said. “Memorable things have just been jamming with other musicians on this tour. I’d say that’s been the most fun for us.”
The lifelong friends formed the band in Santa Barbara while members were attending college around the area. What started in 2001 as two guitarists and a set of drums grew to include a bassist in Taylor by 2002.
By 2008, the band was complete with keyboardist Cayson Peterson, drummer Joe Dickens, vocal and percussionist Kai Rediske, Taylor, guitarist and vocalist Micah Pueschel and dub controller Joe King.
The Hawaiian natives released their first album “No Time for Rest” in 2007, and have been climbing the charts ever since, with hits such as “Cookie Jar” and “Falling.” With the release of its album “Time Bomb” a year ago reaching No. 2 on Billboard’s reggae album charts and several other tracks peaking on iTunes and Billboard lists, Iration has been building up quite the momentum.
The momentum isn’t running out, either. Their most recent EP “Fresh Grounds,” released in February, already experienced some success with the track “Summer Nights” reaching No. 2 on the iTunes reggae singles chart.
Taylor said the group’s goal has always been to do well on the music charts.
“It’s a surprise, but it’s something we’ve been working toward our entire career,” Taylor said.
He also said their success is reflected in other ways.
“It’s translating with the crowds, and we’re able to play bigger shows,” Taylor said. “We feel really blessed and thankful that we’re able to experience this success.”
Fans have been noticing the band’s rise in popularity as well. Mathematics sophomore Mike Ion said he’s seen Iration play with other reggae bands before, and has noticed an increase in its fan base.
“Their popularity has been increasing so much,” Ion said. “I saw them in Hawaii when they opened for Pepper, and there were 20 people there. Now their shows (are) almost sold out. I think they’re starting to appeal to a wider audience. The more they play, the popularity spreads to a lot more people.”
Taylor said the band is indeed trying to appeal to a larger audience, most apparently with the release of “Fresh Grounds.” The band wanted to experiment with more musical styles.
“It has a wide array of music — we’ve never used acoustic guitar,” Taylor said. “We want to remain unique but stick to the fundamentals of reggae, so we’re experimenting with different styles within that genre. It’s cool to go out of our comfort zone.”
And so far, audiences have received the new sounds with open ears. One track “No Letter,” which is an acoustic song, has been a hit among crowds so far, Taylor said.
Civil engineering freshman Alan Blevins said the fact that Iration experiments with sounds within reggae is what distinguishes them from other reggae bands.
“They have so many different sounds,” Blevins said. “They have the rock sound sometimes, sometimes the Bob Marley reggae sound. Just the variety is what makes them unique. I really like all the songs on the new album. They went all out on this one.”
So why does the Iration sound resonate so well with San Luis Obispo — enough to support two shows? Ion said it comes from the sheer enjoyment of reggae music.
“Reggae is the type of music that a lot of people enjoy — it’s not too loud and over the top,” Ion said. “It’s just feel good music. So no matter what genre is your favorite, everyone seems to like their stuff.”
Sanderson attributes it to the crowd connection.
“Iration has always been a SLO staple,” Sanderson said. “They performed earlier in the year and at UU hour and they had a huge crowd. We’ve always given them our support and I don’t think it’ll stop.”
Tickets for both all-ages shows are available in advance for $18 at BooBoo Records or at ticketweb.com, and are $20 at the door. Doors for tonight’s show open at 8 p.m., and at 6:30 p.m. for tomorrow’s show.