Article and photos by Robin Shaffer
If it were up to me, I would put them all on pedestals. I am talking about the Common Kings who played on June 10 at Red Rocks as an opener for SOJA and Sublime with Rome. As is commonly known to their fans, it’s not unusual for Mata Grey, the guitar player, Jr. King, the lead singer, and Ivan K aka Uncle Lui, the bass player to stand on short pedestals at the front of the stage. They are further known to come flying off the pedestals to great heights, kicking, playing, and singing, to land on the stage amid screams of surprise and delight.
Watching these men work the crowd who clearly showed up for the headliner, as many supporting acts must do, was truly a lesson in spiritual uprising. The longer they played, the more spirited the crowd became. I have heard it said that Common Kings music is for lovers. That it’s easy to listen to. That it’s high-school first-love sweet. But in my mind, it is also inspirational and foundational for a positive experience and a good time. They build a fire, they stoke it with every move and flourish, they throw their bodies into it in tight modern moves that are street and gentlemanly at the same time. The band works together to unite the crowd, and lead everyone through a very physical and emotional high.
“One day, when I have a lot of money
Imma be the king again, sippin’ on that Jameson
Party it don’t ever end, your gon wanna bring your friend – “
As the opening lyrics of the first song reverberated around the venue, the promise of a great show unfolded with braggadocio and dreams. At that moment, we were pulled in to the party and the feeling of being wealthy already; Red Rocks, drinks, smokes (of course not inside!), and the Common Kings made us all feel like we owned the night.
The band ripped through some of their most well known tunes, as well as paying tribute to Bob Marley, a heartfelt rendition of Could You Be Loved. As darkness descended, cheers and spirits lit the natural amphitheater.
Off stage, at the Merch booth, they joked and posed as a band for fan photos. They were generous and kind, flirty and humble, emanating gratitude and happiness. They are nothing if not genuine. I was late to their audience. But now I don’t miss a show. My advise? Get there early. You might put them on pedestals too.