Slightly Stoopid takes Lake Tahoe to new heights

Tahoe Onstage

Slightly Stoopid smokes in Tahoe onstage at Harveys on Friday, Aug. 4.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Michael Smyth

Slightly Stoopid and a dubbed out fellowship of Iration, J Boog and The Movement threw the summer’s best party Friday night at the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harvey’s.

Say you are going to carve yourself out a nice little Friday night slice of life with some friends in Lake Tahoe. You are going to grab some Coors, snag a sack and papers and head down to the water to circulate the stress with one another. And what will be bumping out the speakers? More often than not, it will be the smoked out grooves of Slightly Stoopid. Take that experience and blow it up to around 6,000 people and you’ve got the vibe of Friday night’s show.

The Ocean Beach OG’s have the grand distinction of being signed to Sublime’s Bradley Nowell’s label Skunk Records while members Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald were still in high school. The band’s iconic fusion of reggae, dub, folk, rock, punk and soul can be found in the roots of bands sucha as Dirty Heads, Rebelution and Tribal Seeds. The band’s summer bash with Iration, J Boog and The Movement is christened the Sounds of Summer and there couldn’t be anything closer to the truth to describe the music for a Lake Tahoe throwdown.

With so many bands playing, it felt like a mini-festival took over the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harvey’s. People came prepared accordingly, and there was a solid group of tailgaters taking in the sounds of the shows from the Hard Rock Hotel’s parking lot with coolers of beer and spreads of eats, boogying to and from the shows as the dub moved them. Inside, the rows of chairs that usually line the arena had been removed to make room for a fun-loving crowd looking to move with the night’s rhythms. It was a solid move, as the chairs would have stifled the night’s communal vibes and the open space allowed everyone to fly their freak flags in the name of song and dance however they chose.

Tahoe Onstage

J Boog lights up the stage at the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys.

For most, that amounted to an easy bounce from side to side while they threw up a beer or joint cheering any mention of partying or weed from the bands playing on stage. Luckily for everyone involved, it was a lot, but what more would you expect from this legion of party sergeants? The fans new what they came for and the bands were more than happy to give it to them. The Movement dished out G-funk inspired reggae that resonated well with the West Coast crowd and J Boog lit up the verses over his dub-centric beats with natural charisma. Iration brought the Hawaiian flavor to the party and its brand of sunshine reggae fittingly soundtracked the last splinters of light disappearing behind the snow-capped mountains on the lake’s west shore.

When Slightly Stoopid finally arrived, the members were greeted with a roar from the crowd as a low-pressure system of weed smoke billowed into the atmosphere. It was a warm reception and you could feel the appreciation from the stage looking at the smiles and toasts of the band members. Ready to put its own stamp on the night’s festivities, the group kicked off its set with the reggae-pop sweetness of “Officer” and the head-bobbing of the crowd reached a new passionate level that held steady for an hour-and-a-half.

One thing that becomes apparent when Slightly Stoopid is playing right in front of you is just how good they are as musicians. On record, it’s sometimes easy to write off their songs as reggae-lite for white boys in Baja sweatshirts down by the campfire and the instrumentality can be lost in the hazy production. But live, the band is a bright blast of solid grooves and tight musicianship that can take you to new heights no matter what state of mind you are in.

Tahoe Onstage

Kyle McDonald of Slightly Stoopid.

Joining Doughty on guitar and McDonald on bass were drummer Ryan Moran, percussionist Oguer Ocon, keyboardist Paul Wolstencroft and a horn section that consisted of trombonist Andy Geib, trumpeter Rashawn Ross and saxophonist Daniel “Dela” Delacruz. It was a locked-in outfit that could levitate on the blissful reggae of “Sweet Honey” or get down with the blazed out funk of “Devil at the Door.” Doughty was constantly dropping some candied little licks on the guitar that just hit the sweet spot in your soul and the horn section added heat to the grooviest of songs, leading McDonald to proclaim, “It feels good when the brass is reaching the heavens,” after another fire solo from Ross.

It felt great, really, the whole thing. There was so much love being passed between the audience and the band, especially between founders McDonald and Doughty. They were constantly praising the audience, slapping hands and bumping fists, hyping up the energy of the night. They were there for the fans, even so far as to light up a fan’s joint during the band’s laid-back banger “2 A.M.,” giving something to that fan they’ll remember for the rest of their life. Fan favorites “Everything You Need” and “We Don’t Wanna Go” summed up the feelings of the crowd during the encore as the party started to come to a close. For a finale, the band brought out all the bands to the stage for one more toke and toast to the crowd in an all-hands-on deck jam.

Slightly Stoopid is certainly a musical cornerstone for a lot of people across the nation, but they have their own special patch in the greater culture of California as godfathers of the Long Beach sound that came out of the early 1990s. If you are talking California bands, Slightly Stoopid ranks up there with The Grateful Dead and Metallica in terms of tight-knit, grassroots community followings. You could sense that Slightly Stoopid was a big part of a lot of the fans’ lives who were there and they left overflowing with good times. It would be hard not to, though, because you couldn’t ask for a better time than a summer party with Slightly Stoopid on the shores of Lake Tahoe.

-Garrett Bethmann

About Garrett Bethmann

Garrett Bethmann is a graduate of University of Mary Washington with a degree in English. He moved to Lake Tahoe in summer 2012.

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