Last Night: Michael Rose at The Independent
Dancing was the strict house policy last night from the moment Michael (Mykal) Rose bounced on stage. Clad in sunglasses and a striking tan suit embroidered with black roses -- which later became so drenched in sweat that he actually had to wring out the sleeves -- Rose set the tone by asking, first thing, "Are you feelin irie tonight, San Francisco?" The audience, a packed house steeped in a fog of Jamaica's finest, was feeling very irie indeed.
The Independent had been nearly empty just an hour before, but a steady stream of smiling, be-dreaded heads filled the floor by the time Rose came on at 10:45 p.m. It was a small but fitting--and fittingly named--venue for the Jamaica-based band: "Down in Jamaica, today is our independence day," Rose said, adding that this was the first time he had been to San Francisco in 10 years.
Even though most of the beats were mellow and low, Rose let his screaming white tennis shoes lead him around the stage for the entirety of the set. As he moved, his head was bobbing, and sweat poured down his beard and saturated the elbows of his suit. Some members of the crowd had also been bobbing to the contagious upbeats since they walked in the door, but those who weren't dancing before caught on fast at Rose's lead. His backup singers -- the only two women on stage -- moved in sync to the beat, their voices nearly drowned out by Rose's legendary scatting and the ringing bass and drums behind it.