An Exorcism In Dub: Scientist, Roots Radics + Johnny Osbourne Purify BB Kings

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September 25, 2012

Words by Sherman Escoffery, Photos by Richard Rose—

“I want blood” was the theme of the evening Friday night  at BB King’s in NYC, and trust me, it was a bloodfire show. Roots Radics, with Scientist at the control tower (engineers booth), dropped some serious dubs, for the Dub Champions Festival event dubbed “Scientist, Roots Radics, & Johnny Osbourne Rids NY of the Evil Curse of the Vampires.”

Deadly Dragon’s DJ Scratch Famous and LargeUp’s DJ Gravy juggled some serious 70’s and 80’s reggae classics to warm up an impatient audience, who had already packed into the venue before Roots Radics had completed their sound check. When the band finally took to the stage with Dwight Pickney on lead with his rhythm guitar, they mellowed out the crowd by playing reggae classics, including Gregory Isaacs “Night Nurse,” and Dennis Brown’s “How Could I Live” (from Pickney’s Memories by The Score album).

The change in mood and tempo came quickly after Scientist introduced the evil vampire laugh track that preceded “Voodoo Curse” and “Dance of the Vampire.” That was when I noticed “Flabba” Holt’s bass, slowly going up from his waist to his chest, until it seemed as if he was bussing bass from a M16. The reggae caricature called Daddy Lion Chandell then emerged to do some evil vampire slayer dance, while brandishing his three-foot wooden, Egyptian cross, wielding it like a sword, as he jumped, kneeled, skipped and stabbed at evil spirits.

It was pure celebration when the veteran lovers rock star-turned-soundkiller Johnny Osbourne touched the stage to celebrate the end of the vampire curse. He opened with his Sleng Teng classic “Buddy Bye,” before moving into songs like “Folly Ranking” and “Ice Cream Love,” as he called up DJ Screechy Dan, who brought some 80’s speed chatting to complement Johnny’s performance. They brought the house down in celebration of the deaths of all the vampires and evil spirits that previously roamed the venue.

After hearing and witnessing probably the best event I have attended in the past year, I can definitely say it was a Subatomic Sound event in more ways than one: It seemed more like three distinct shows featuring one band.

Read Scientist’s interview with Largeup here, and scroll through for more photos from the event.

Scientist at the controls