Rolling around the northeast on their Spring Steady Tour, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad burned one down this past saturday with the help from the High Hopes Band and Danielle Ponder & the Tomorrow People at the Westcott Theater in Syracuse, NY. High Hopes hit the stage at 8 p.m. sharp, not wasting a moment of the audience’s time. Ready as ever, they kicked off the first set with originals from their newly released album Forever Love. HHB serenaded the crowd for the their full hour with silky smooth lyrical stories accompanied by cavernous bass lines and rich drum rhythms. Luscious guitar melodies and keyboards were nothing short of ear pleasing for the 70’s era reggae lovers in the theater.
The second performance was delightfully owned by Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People. These Rochester, NY funksters brought with them to Syracuse a style of their own, blending Soul, Funk, R&B, and Hip Hop. The group practically tore down the roof with covers of “Killing Me Softly” by the Fugees and “Cherish the Day” by Sade, along with a mix of their own original music. Danielle belted out every lyric and syllable with precision and affection as a passionate singer should, which may have come easy being backed up by a modestly qualified band.
By the time the first two performances were finished, the crowd was warmed up and awaiting some Giant Panda love. A few moments later, the five members of GPGDS ascended the stage with instruments in hand and propelled into their set. Opening with a new song called “Make it Better,” the squad put their faith into the commendable crowd, which yielded a boisterous cheer. Graciously, the quintet pursued a monstrous segue jam that Chris and Tony kept glued together, consisting of “Seasons Change,” “Foundation,” “Mr. Cop,” “Pockets,” and ending with “Healing.” Without taking a breath, they dove right into “Steady,” the title track of their most recent release and the crowd displayed extensive joy as they sang along with Dylan and Dan’s unified harmonies.
Giant Panda flawlessly gave the people what they wanted with more fan favorites, such as “All Night Music,” “Whatever Cost,” and “Take Your Place.” The energy in the building was immense to the point that the band did not want to take a break, playing nearly a three hour set. Sparing no expense, the guys dropped a whopping “.45” with James leading on vocals and bass. After departing the stage for a brisk water break, the ensemble returned with a two song encore consisting of “Far Away” and “OK,” coupled with a fancy dub jam molded in the middle. Before anyone could appeal, the show was closing and the band was thanking the Salt City along with everyone in attendance for sharing their evening with them.
Amidst a lengthy northeastern run, these artists held their momentum and have not wasted one ounce of energy on their fans. As GPGDS continues their Spring Steady Tour through April with three more shows in Ithaca, Albany, and Buffalo, they will also be traveling to the west coast for a few appearances this spring, including the California Roots Festival on May 22.