Reggae music can conjure up a multitude of different stereotypes — Bob Marley, “stoners,” dreads, rastafarianism, etc. Before seeing “Fortunate Youth” in concert, I had a few of these stereotypes pegged in my mind. Having not been the biggest fan of reggae in the past, I wasn’t expecting anything more than a dull concert, but luckily, I was incredibly wrong.
“Fortunate Youth” is a small, up-and-coming reggae band based out of Los Angeles. The members all came together after connecting with each other in one way or another — childhood baseball buddies, open mic nights and, in one case, merely a Facebook message. While some of the members generally stick to a certain instrument, there are no “labels”— anyone can be playing any instrument on any given night.
The group is reggae-focused but utilizes several different factors from varying music types. On stage, there was a small brass section, giving the songs more of a ska feel, rather than strict reggae. Ska is the use of a large brass section in a rock band, which generally offers a really cool and new take on songs and styles that come easily to the ear. By adding in the brass section, F.Y. sounded edgier as well as more refined as a group. Also, while some reggae — or, in my opinion, most reggae — can begin to sound pretty repetitive, F.Y. kept their songs fresh by adding unique style- and tempo-changes to hold the attention of the audience.
What I loved most about the band was the lyrics, which created vibes and energy that radiated from the stage. The singers speak out on love, unity, peace and helping others, no matter what. They are involved in several charitable organizations, bringing collaborative CDs to kids whose schools have had to cut out music programs due to underfunding. Their interaction with the crowd gave the audience a sense that they truly mattered to this band and that the members were sincere in their appreciation of a collective love of music.
Salt Lake was the first stop on the band’s tour, taking place around the U.S. for about eight weeks. In May, the band released their latest album, “Don’t Think Twice,” featuring the song “Midnight Lover,” a self-interpreted song with a very exciting music video being released sometime in the next year.
F.Y. opened my mind to the possibility of reggae being about more than smoking weed and repetitive bongos — I now see that it promotes love, community, music, and the general happiness of those experiencing the journey.