BY FRANK DE BLASE
Last night I discovered the distinct difference between Highland Bowl and the Highland Park Festival Site. For whatever reason, me and my wingman Woody thought that the Wednesday Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad concert was at the Bowl. But when we rolled up there was no reggae, there was no dub, there weren’t thousands of hippies with hula hoops, there was no earth-shattering ka-boom. There were, however, a lot of “thither to”s and “wherefor arts” and lots of complicated antiquated phrases ending in “th.”
“Man,” said Woody. “The Pandas have really changed.”
That’s when it dawned on me.
“What light through yonder window breaks,” I said. “‘Tis Shakespeare in the Park and Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad is over there.” Apparently we weren’t the only ones to make this mistake. We followed the bass and the faint cheers south.
And that’s where we found a crowd of about 4,000 hula-hooping, dancing, swaying, swinging, shoeless, braless bodies personifying and interpreting the band’s deep-dish groove. The sound was great, bested only by the peaceful joy and upbeat vibe. The band pulled out a few tunes from it’s “Country” album, which essentially just altered the bass groove from the one to the two/four. The band applied this to one of my all-time favorite Elvis tunes, “Mystery Train” (incidentally, the Junior Parker original featured guitarist Floyd Murphy, who used to live with our own Joe Beard).
The band was simultaneously loose and tight. I guess you could call it snug, kind of like new underpants. At times it kicked off songs with an exuberant acceleration before immediately slowing things down. It was trippy to the max. Good show, good band, good night.