As I pulled down the street to get to the parking garage, I was surprised to see Michael Franti on the street doing some stretches on the side of the tour bus. I was glad to see he was wearing shoes, since these Baltimore city streets are no joke. It’s the beginning of the club tour, as he takes a break from the summer festival circuit to promote his latest album, Sound of Sunshine.
Franti always brings some flavor with him when he tours, this time he brought Blue King Brown from Australia to get the crowd hyped, and they succeeded. They made a point to honor the indigenous people of Baltimore and the surrounding areas, and then they got started with a blend of dancehall and hip hop. Lead singer Natalie Pa’apa’a brought a universal consciousness message touching on social and political issues while getting the energy and good vibes flowing for Franti and his band to hit the stage. A highlight was “Say Peace”, the only single currently available on ITunes, until the release of their album Worldwize Part 1 in August.
During the set break, as I look around I was really surprised to see so many kids at the show. Smart parents found places on the railings or where they could lift and place kids around the columns where there are bars for drinks, but apparently also big enough for little feet to stand on. Spearhead started their set with Everyone Deserves Music, and continued the set with a mix of songs from their catalog. “Sound of Sunshine” was about six songs in, accompanied by fans joining Franti on stage and large yellow balloons appeared from backstage to bounce around the venue. He changed some lyrics around during “Sweet Little Lies” saying, “Baltimore has a lot of soul.” For “Shake It” he brought up fans to “shake it” on stage with him, which is always fun to watch.
Then Spearhead held it down on stage during “Yell Fire” while Michael headed out into the crowd, starting on the upper balcony and working his was around the top and back down through the packed center stage area before making his way back onto the stage for the finale, which of course meant getting more people on stage, but this time he only wanted the little ones. He invited all the kids on stage, and a little girl gave Michael a letter that he read on stage saying that she wished he was her big brother so they could hang out all the time. The kids helped in singing “Say Hey”, knowing all the words, some making hearts with their hands or just clapping and dancing along. Watching kids dance, reminds me how easy and carefree being young is! It was quite a way to end a night of amazing energy.
Fans gave mixed reviews, probably because old fans are not to keen on the new turn towards pop sounding songs from the new album. Regardless, Franti always gives me the recharge of good energy I need, and I went away happy.