Article and Photos by: Ian Urquhart
Burlington, VT – Tank tops, sundresses and comfortable shoes were suggested for those planning to hear the sound of sunshine come down in Vermont. As the summer solstice provided the longest day of the year, Satsang and Michael Franti & Spearhead packed the Higher Ground Ballroom to maximum capacity on June 21st, 2017.
First to take the stage – Satsang. This collective group of folk-rock and hip-hop gentlemen made their presence known early on in their set. Instrumentally, Drew McManus (Lead Vocals), Karl Roth (Bass/Keys/Guitar/Vocals) and Keller Paulson (Drummer) collaborated wonderfully to include a bit of improvisation alongside their choreographed performance. However, the message within their music seemed to resonate louder with the Burlington crowd rather than the decibel level. Passionate expressions of growth, imperfection and awareness were indicators of where the motivation originated from in order to build their most recent album Pyramid(s) (2017). “I am,” off The Story of You (2016) completed the set list as Drew asked for all the lights to be shed among those who were in attendance. A sincere thank you was given to the Higher Ground Ballroom show-goers as Satsang promptly headed to their merchandise table for meet and greets after the show.
With much anticipation, Michael Franti & Spearhead’s performance delivered. Not only was the set an expression of Franti’s hybrid genre of folk, rock, hip-hop and reggae, it was intensely interactive with the fans. The playing of “The Sound of Sunshine,” off The Sound of Sunshine (2010) provided the cameo of a lucky fan from the front row to sing along side Michael on stage. Tens of yellow balloons were then released into the crowd in order to replicate the sound of sunshine coming down on the Burlington, Vermont crowd. U2’s number “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” off The Joshua Tree (1987) made an appearance as those attending linked arms, sang along and hugged their nearest stranger. Interactivity seemed to be a common theme throughout the evening. With a small stage stationed in the center of the crowd, Michael and Karl sifted through the pit to invite a fortunate fan to sing and dance along on the middle-positioned platform. The overwhelming favorite “Say Hey (I Love You),” concluded the evening’s events as the ballroom attendees left their feet to jump and shake Higher Ground’s foundation.
You can catch Michael Fanti & Spearhead on touring around the United States through the end of September. Remaining tour dates can be found here https://www.michaelfranti.com/tour-dates/