Over the years, Bear Tooth's First Taps and Moose's Tooth summer shows have been linchpins of live music in Anchorage. They offer the perfect setting for hanging with friends, trying out some of the tastiest beer in the city and the chance to catch some of the best and brightest in music.
The impressive list of artists who have performed the past few years ranges from hip-hop legends like Mos Def or De La Soul to alt-rock stars such as Wilco or Cake. That said, perhaps no type of music fits the aesthetic and good times atmosphere of one of these summertime shows better than reggae.
Artists like The Wailers or Clinton Fearon have visited Alaska, and while those musicians are stars, it's not often that we're given the chance to see one of the true up-and-comers of the genre.
Until now, that is. One of the budding superstar groups of the reggae world, Iration, will play Alaska for the first time at Bear Tooth's First Tap.
That's a far cry from the band's humbler beginnings, when the group never considered playing outside of Santa Barbara, Calif.
"We used to sit in our dorm rooms or off-campus rooms and play for hours," bassist Adam Taylor told Times Square magazine. "We were really into it and it was something that became our passion, but we didn't consider it a career."
Eventually the music made it out of their homes and into local college parties. Those parties helped build a passionate fan base throughout that area but not much elsewhere.
That didn't remain the case. As Taylor told Times Square, "when we started to get a few offers to play outside of Santa Barbara -- we were seeing more fans paying for tickets -- it hit us that we could really do it."
Shortly afterward, the band released its first EP, "Sample This," and played a sold-out show at the legendary Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles. Since then the band has released two more EPs, two full-lengths and played major festivals like Lollapalooza and Wakarusa.
Currently the band is working on its third full-length record, with Cage the Elephant guitarist Lincoln Parrish producing. Titled "Automatic," the group is looking for more of a reggae-rock blend that stems from a broad range of influences that includes not just reggae names but also classic sounds like Fleetwood Mac and the hard-driving punk of Pennywise.
"All of us as a band, we all decided we wanted this album to have a proper rock sound," lead singer and guitarist Micah Pueschel told music website The Pier. "We wanted to make songs that were proper rock with a crossover type of sound."
Anchorage might get a preview of the crossover sound to come when Iration joins the list notables to have played First Tap. What we are getting is a band with a live reputation that precedes them.
"We definitely embrace and strive to be a good live band," Taylor told Examiner.com. "It's a lot of fun to play music, so it's not hard if you practice and love what you're doing."
By David Harper
Daily News correspondent