Reggae artist Hirie performs in Berkeley

Rebecca Olmos,
Staff Writer

‘Stay Wandering’ tour sells out first show at Cornerstone venue

When Hirie was told the show was sold out she asked everyone in the green room to scream “Sold out!” as she recorded it on her phone. She later posted it to her Instagram account. The San Diego based reggae-pop band performed at Cornerstone in downtown Berkeley on Saturday Feb. 24. It was the first of 15 shows the band is set to perform for their winter ‘Stay Wandering’ tour.

Cornerstone has a venue on one side which consists of a full bar and a mezzanine viewing area. It fits 500 people which provides an intimate setting for the bands and audience. Attached to the venue is a restaurant which serves comfort food and has more than 40 draft beers on tap.

As patrons sat in the restaurant and waited for the doors to open singer-songwriter, Hirie, walked around the bar, talked with fans and took photos. Making personal connections with fans is a regular part of the tour life: she does this at every show.

“My favorite part about performing live is knowing I have the ability to affect people emotionally in whatever way that I can,” Patricia Anne Jetton, whose stage name is Hirie, told The Pioneer before the show. “Hopefully I can provoke a feeling that would be something good. But having that power in that moment where everyone is just looking up at the stage waiting to be entertained. That feeling, that’s probably my favorite part.”

The band’s sophomore album, “Wandering Soul,” which debuted in 2016, was fully funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter is a website where the public can donate money to help fund creative projects by other people.  
“Wandering Soul” debuted at number one on the Billboard Reggae chart and received positive reviews from critics. Hirie has also been labeled by many independent music critics as a reggae’s new and fast rising female sensation.

When I met the band backstage before the show, they greeted me with hugs and I talked to them as they ate their dinner. After the interview we took a shot together. The green room was full of people coming in and out before the show talking, drinking, and hanging out. At one point Hirie played the guitar and sang one of her songs as two other women sang along loudly with her.

As I walked out of the green room and made my way towards the main stage to watch the show, Hirie told me, “You better rage.”

It was hard not to. The band features keys, drums, guitar, bass, trombone and saxophone accompanied by Hirie’s vocals.

When the show began, the trombone slide reached over the audience and the crowd cheered as Hirie walked onto the stage. You could feel the bass from the music vibrate through the floor. As they performed Hirie danced around the stage in her Jeffrey Campbell heels.

They performed hits off their latest album, like “Don’t Take My Ganja,” “Wandering Soul” and “You Won’t Be Alone.” There also were songs from their first self-titled album, “Hirie,” like “Sensi Boy.” A highlight from the live performance was when the band covered the Gwen Stefani led No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak.” The cover had the audience singing along.

“It’s the horns, man,” one audience member said with a smile as he watched the performance.

It was the horns and the combination of reggae music blended with pop sounds that had the audience dancing and cheering. This blend of genres is how Hirie plans to gain mainstream success.

“I’m becoming more comfortable with speaking my mind and allowing that to come through, but also trying to really write hooky stuff and paying attention what can transcend into multiple genres.” Hirie told The Pioneer. “Not that I want to be anything other than reggae. I want to be reggae, but I want to be able to appeal to a greater market so we can see success as a band.”

The event was a combination of a small venue and diverse reggae performances. Joining Hirie on this tour is For Peace Band and Indubious. Both bands are reggae but mix other sounds genres sounds in their music as well. For Peace Band blends rock, roots, and reggae. Indubious mixes reggae, dub and dancehall.

While on tour the band is working on new music and developing their sound. Hirie’s first album was rootsy, and “Wandering Soul” was more heady and electrifying. Hirie doesn’t know the sound of their next album because they’re still trying to figure out their vibe.

After the ‘Stay Wandering’ tour Hirie will perform in Monterey May 25-27 at the California Roots Festival.