Midnite is my favorite Reggae band still making music and touring. Based in St. Croix, they make political music charged with passion and emotion. Vaughn Benjamin‘s lyrics stand out as poetic, simple and universal, reminiscent of the prophets Marley and Tosh. There is pain, anger, sadness, wisdom, hope and joy in them, as they describe the plight of black people and the struggles of all the oppressed in a way that both hardcore rastas and white suburban hippies can relate to. They offer complex analysis of racial and social issues and inspirational truths that illuminate the perils and challenges of life.
Benjamin‘s electrifying voice seems an amalgamation of many great voices in reggae -soulful, chanting, edgy. His brother Ron Benjamin‘s exquisite production, vocals, dub, arrangements and bass playing form the nucleus of their rootsy sound, which includes: Christian Molinaon drums, Edmund Fieulleteau and Edwin Byron on guitars and Ras L on keys.
Their live show is both a religious ceremony and a party, filled with uplifting prayers, pensive moments and reggae bangers that get the crowd jumping. I caught them on January 20th at The Key Club in L.A., the capital of Babylon. They tour up and down California regularly and I was determined to see them this time around. Ron was grinning widely, hopping and sliding around excitedly with his bass, engaging the crowd as the guitarists, keyboards and drums settled into their grooves in the background. But Vaughn is the star of the show – his tall, lanky frame has a mesmerizing stage presence as his charisma and energy flow calmly but powerfully through the mic.
They played favorites like “Love The Life You Live” and “Bushman” from their classic album Unpolished and impressive new tunes off their new album Treasure. The tempo varied from mellow, dubbed-out incantations to upbeat crowd favorites like “Emotion” and the encore, a bangin 17-minute “Kaaba Stone”, which I got some decent video of (below). It was the best Reggae show I’ve seen, and it solidified my belief that Midnite is the realest and most interesting Reggae band around. Rastafari!
Check out one of my favorite tunes – listen to the words!
Check out footage of their live performances in Santa Cruz and L.A: