The first time I heard Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad was earlier this year at the G. Love & Special Sauce concert in Fayetteville (‘member that?). They were the opening act and I didn’t know anything about them. So I asked what kind of music they played, and a guy came over and said “it’s baby-making music.” That was my introduction to Giant Panda G.D.S. That guy was right, to certain extent, but after seeing them for a second time I learned they’re much more than just baby-making music.
Words and Photos by B “Café con Leche” Gutierrez
From that night, I knew they would play at Wakarusa and that they’d be on my must-see list. Mixing roots reggae and experimental dub, they’re the kind of band that will keep you going. The four-piece band from Rochester, NY is consistently on tour. James Searl (bass, vocals) said that sharing so much time together in their van, they play more acoustic music than they do reggae. He used that as an introduction to an acoustic love song that carried the same easy, love-filled spirit that flows from their reggae songs.
During their set at Wakarusa, Hash Browns mentioned how Searl was one of the most energetic bass players she had seen. Searl, along band mates Christ O’Brian (drums, vocals), Dylan Savage (guitar, vocals), and Aaron Lipp (Hammond B3 organ, Fender Rhodes, Clavinet, percussion, vocals) transmit their beliefs through their music and engage you with every song, every face and every movement on the stage.
It’s not the type of reggae that will just keep you swaying; no, you better be ready to dance. As the songs progress, the beat changes as you get lost in the rhythm and the lyrics. I enjoyed their show, but really wished I had known the lyrics to sing along. Their lyrics are positive. You get fun, easy tunes like “In These Times” and “On The Moon.” And you get some like “Pockets” and “Seasons Change,” songs charged with social commentary. “Pockets” was one of those songs I wished I could have sang along.
If I can I’ll catch them live again. Wakarusa 2011 show? Yes, please. Enjoy the shots from their set at Wakarusa. I particularly enjoy their facial expressions, they’re priceless.