Summer 2010 Concerts: Local musicians return home

Sept. 12, 2010 in Rochester, N.Y.

On Saturday Sept. 12, Rochester, N.Y. natives James Searl and Chris O'Brian returned home with bandmates Dylan Savage and Aaron Lipp in the form of musical big shots: The Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad.

According to Giant Panda's page, the band "is relentless reggae sound. Roots reggae and experimental dub. North American International Body Music." The group has been touring for three years and has played over 500 shows. This particular show at Rochester's Water Street Music Hall celebrated the release of Live Up! II, a collection of live recordings "hand picked by Rochester, N.Y.'s psychedelic reggae road warriors."

Giant Panda's sound is based in traditional reggae made rich with the addition of brass and "riddim" samples that emphasize the bass line of previously recorded instrumentals. As a treat for the hometown crowd, Giant Panda played an acoustic set that featured each member sitting on a folding chair at the stage's edge playing and singing. The three-song set was folksy and sweet but also suitable for dancing.

Opening for Giant Panda was The Beautiful Girls, an Australian dub band arguably more dynamic and rhythmically rich than the headliners themselves. The Beautiful Girls has been around since 2000, emerging from the underground scene as a combination of well-known musicians struggling to find a sound together. A few years ago, however, something clicked and they have since risen to new heights.