Last year, the Hawaiian reggae band known as The Green spent its first Thanksgiving in the mainland at the Pink Warehouse on South Street. Zion Thompson, who plays lead guitar and shares vocals, remembers the visit fondly—the turkey was well-glazed, he was getting “lots of good vibes” in town, and his band had spent the last year enjoying the breakout success of its self-titled debut, which would soon be named iTune’s Best Reggae Album of 2010.
The Green is back in town tonight, almost a year later, opening for fellow Rootfire Management band Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad at the Southern. This time around, The Green’s stop in Charlottesville finds its sophomore release, Ways and Means, in its second week at the top of the U.S. Billboard Reggae Charts, above at least four releases with the surname “Marley” attached.
"She was the Best"
While most cities in the mainland have a base-level of reggae enthusiasts who will come out for a Badfish show, the Green are a success story from a Honolulu scene that, according to Thompson, is “saturated with dozens and dozens of reggae bands.” If the term “reggae enthusiast” sounds a bit off, it’s because it describes the chillest music fan out there, but according to Thompson, extensive touring has made the guys in The Green a little more selective. “Just being out here in the mainland touring a lot and playing every night and, you just learn so much through travel that you don’t get it anywhere else. We see bands out here that are amazing, you know, and we see bands that aren’t amazing. But I think learning from both has had a good influence on us.”
Reggae stations have been huge in Hawaii for years, but as Thompson sees it, the increased number of local groups in the scene has changed the standards of radio play. “There’s a lot of catchy, generic music that gets played on the radio in Hawaii. Just a couple chords and the lyrics are all the same, and there’s nothing really to it. But in the last couple years it’s been taking a turn in a better direction, a little more roots-focused and a little more conscious. The radio’s been adapting to what technology’s allowing people to do on their own.”
Seeing The Green as hometown heroes is easy as searching them on Youtube and counting how many Hawaiian high schoolers have posted covers of their work. Seeing them change the face of reggae tonight will only cost you a negligible cover charge.