SOJA @ The Electric Factory (2/4)

Published on February 5th, 2012

SOJA treated a large audience to a great night of reggae Saturday night, Feb. 4 at the Electric Factory.  Also playing were opening acts Fear Nuttin Band and The Movement.  At least 2100 people were inattendance in what SOJA lead singer Jacob Hemphill called the biggest audience he’s played in front of in Philadelphia.  Hemphill was gracious all night, repeatedly thanking the audience.

Fear Nuttin Band got things started off with a rockin set.  Their heavy metal type reggae rocked the audience.  Two singers led the band.  They got the audience singing along, “Living my life as a rebel I don’t care”.  SOJA bassist/vocalist Bobby Lee Jeffereson came out for a song and the trio of singers got the crowd going.  Fear Nuttin’s singers finally went into the crowd to absorb the love, and played 7-8 songs.

Next up was The Movement.  A four piece ensemble, the vibe was more mellow than Fear Nuttin.  The singer blended rap with singing and took the crowd into some nice jams. Towards the end of their set they built the pace up, and ended with an awesome finally when SOJA’s sax and trumpet player featured on the last songs. The bassist, who had been grooving hard with some awesome hip movements like I’ve never seen on a bassist, took a flying leap into a sea of awaiting hands from the 6 foot stage.

Finally, after much anticipation, SOJA came on.  Hemphill, the lead singer, announced to the crowd that they were playing songs from the album that just was released, Strength to Survive.  In fact they would blend old stuff and new, playing crowd favorites such as “I’m Sorry” and “I open My Eyes” off of the album “Get Wiser”.  SOJA  is fast up tempo rock reggae.  Based out of Washington D.C. the band has been together for a number of years and their experience shows – the performance was tight.

Hemphill’s somewhat hoarse lyrics and lead guitar were showcased.  He has an unmistakeable charisma and charm, always a wry smile on his face – as if he knows something you don’t. He exclaimed to the crowd, “Everything sounds way more awesome when you say ‘TONIGHT!’ after it…I had a peanut butter and jelly…TONIGHT!” The crowd went wild. Featured on horns were Rafael Rodriguez on trumpet and Hellman Escorcia on saxophone.  Ryan Berly played drums and Kenneth Brownell was on percussion- congo that gave the sound real depth. He even had a an awesome solo towards the end as the band broke into an epic jam.  Patrick O’shea played keys, and  Bobby Lee on was bass and vocals. They welcomed their old guitar tech on as their new second guitarist.  After playing roughly an hour and a half they were sent off with a rousing ovation.  They came back for a two song encore, which started off with Hemphill alone with his guitar and grew into a wild breakdown.  A great night was had by all – even the kids stirring up a few fleeting moshes. By the end of the night the place was packed and sold out, and Hemphill snagged this pic:

Go to for more information on the band and upcoming shows!

Click here to download songs from their new album on iTunes! 

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