There was standing room only at The Haunt as Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad returned to Ithaca with Beat The Grid on Thursday, February 20th. Good vibes and smiling faces were in abundance, with fans coming from far and wide to see what was undoubtedly the best show around. Giant Panda has recently returned from an eight-show West coast tour, highlighting their new mixtape In Roots We Trust, featuring The Expanders and The Simpkin Project, which explores North American Reggae music.
Giant Panda is a Dub/Americana/Roots band from Rochester NY, but got their start in Ithaca about ten years ago. The band has gained immense popularity since then, touring the country and even getting spots at some of the nation’s largest music festivals, including Summercamp and All Good Music Festival. Giant Panda’s music is known for its positive and uplifting lyrics backed by infectious dub that soothes the soul. In addition to dub/reggae, they also released a country album displaying the band’s musical versatility.
Opening for the band was a local Ithaca group by the name of Beat The Grid. The band had a similar upbeat feel with some added funk that warmed the crowd up nicely.Their beautiful female vocalist had the entire audience mesmerized by her smooth voice and exotic dancing. Beat The Grid’s set included fan favorite “Her Cosmic Lines” and many other tracks from their 2013 self-titled album, as well as some new songs.
For a small venue, the sound at The Haunt was of very high quality and the place was busting at the seams with the huge amount of people in attendance. Giant Panda opened with “Not The Fool” and “Solution”, spreading the love and pushing towards making this world a better place. The night continued with songs old and new, with teasers from their upcoming album to be released this summer. Dylan Savage on guitar and Tony Gallicchio on keys displaying their mastery of their instruments as they traded solos that sent chills down the spine. Guitarist Dan Keller was also in his prime, presenting his saxophone skills and unforgettable vocals to add to the already amazing performance. Giant Panda mashed up some of their most popular songs, “Missing You More” and “Pockets” to make for some outstanding medleys and even surprised the crowd with a rendition of soul legend Marvin Gaye’s “Lets Get It On.”
After Giant Panda left the stage, chants for “One More Song!” were started up by the fans, who at midnight had a lot more left in the tank and were not ready to call it a night. Not long after, the band returned to play Jackie Wilson’s classic “Higher and Higher”, featuring Dan Keller on saxophone and “Mr. Cop” as every crowd member sang the chorus “They callin’ up the cops ‘cause it smells like Ganja!” There was not a still body in the house as everyone danced their hearts out for the fifteen-minute encore, leaving everyone sweaty, exhausted, and satisfied.