Michael Franti & Spearhead’s concert at Terminal 5 last Thursday night oozed positivity from start to finish and continued to open my eyes to the New York music scene. I was first introduced to the larger-than-life Franti in college under the pretenses of good vibes and being accepted by a new family in Missoula, Montana, a city that makes a case to be the Austin, TX of the north, adopting the ‘keep it weird’ mantra as a blue dot in a sea of red. That’s a long-winded way of saying I smoked with hippies.
This was not the crowd at Franti’s New York City show, and I had a blast celebrating life with an entirely different crowd of business men clad in their midtown suit jackets, and women who would easily be labeled MILFS among my circle of friends. Some toting their badge of MILFdom by their side (that means kids…).
However, like the message says on the back of Franti’s denim vest (and his new album title), All People seem to welcome the uplifting sounds this man makes as his message has transcended demographics in the wake of his commercial success.
There was no “Ganja Babe” on the set list and the scent of herbs were hardly wafting through the concert hall, but the people attending seemed every bit as loose and carefree as most of the festival crowds I’d immersed myself in over the summer. For a solid hour and a half Franti and the boys kept the crowd’s hands in the air, jumping and singing along through most of his hits like “Yell Fire” and “Sound of Sunshine,” with him occasionally taking a trip up to the 2nd and 3rd levels of the venue to get down with his people.
Before playing “Life is Better With You,” that song was made all the more relevant by an on-stage proposal (in case you couldn’t guess, she said ‘yes’), and during “Gangsta Girl” the band was joined on stage by a couple dozen adults from the crowd to get a Franti’s eye view of the fun. Towards the end of night Franti ventured into the back of the crowd to play a couple songs and preach words of tolerance and love. I guess you could say he’s trying to get down off the altar that the concert stage can be and show everyone’s equal at one of his shows.
Franti’s guaranteed to put on a lively show that puts a smile on your face and genuinely brings people a little closer together. This concert was the first time I’d seen Michael Franti & Spearhead live, but it was definitely worth the wait and I won’t wait as long to see him again. This veteran of the concert circuit can show musicians half his age something about showmanship, which he helps prove is still worth a damn in this era of music we live in.