Review of The Aggrolites at The Square

Lifestyle / Mon 13th Oct 2014 at 11:40am

By Alonzo Mosley

All the way from sunny LA, The Aggrolites took their dirty reggae to my home town of Harlow to play at The Square. The anticipation had left me feeling nervous on my way there, probably because I was going on my own and I was hoping to get a chance to talk to the band. I needn’t have worried.

The crowd was a mixture of ages, people in boots and braces, checked shirts and tattoos, punk t-shirts and suits, leopard print and bandanas. The Square was packed but I seemed to have plenty of room right up in front of the stage and despite the crowd’s nonstop dancing I didn’t have one drink knocked out of my hands all night. This may have been because everyone was avoiding the strange girl dancing by herself but it worked in my favour regardless. Despite how busy it was I got served quickly every time I went to the bar, which was only the once and for a sparkling water, obviously…

I hadn’t been there long when I nearly ruined the whole gig by almost pushing Jeff Roffredo, bassist of The Aggrolites, down the stairs. I had decided to wander around the venue to soak up the buzzing atmosphere while waiting for New Town Kings to kick off the night when I narrowly avoided colliding with Jeff. I hadn’t been looking where I was going but I was aware of what a close call it had been on hearing his awesome LA accent as he rather sweetly apologised. He wasn’t fazed and spoke to me for a long time, asking for advice on how to pronounce Harlow authentically. We then invented our own handshake which I’m sure will catch on and he said although the band were quite tired from performing last night (you couldn’t tell) they were really excited to play their skinhead reggae at The Square.

Being extra careful on the stairs this time, I made my way through the excited crowd back up to the main room for Essex ska band New Town Kings, who looked amazing on the stage, with songs you couldn’t possibly not sing along to and huge presence. They were so high-energy and when they started playing everyone was skanking with massive smiles on their faces. The audience and The Aggrolites loved them.

The Aggrolites bounded on stage to huge cheers from the crowd. They were dressed in black t-shirts and had great chemistry, laughing and joking with each other, talking to the audience and encouraging them to sing along. The sound was loud, how I like it, their voices perfect and the stage brightly lit so you could see everything. I had asked Jeff if I could have the set list at the end but even though we both forgot, I can promise that the band and audience alike were loving every song from start to finish, with Jesse taking requests from the crowd. An absolute highlight was Free Time, asked for by a man who was there celebrating his birthday, which Jesse dedicated to him before playing. I’ve had it stuck in my head ever since but that is not a bad thing.

The Aggrolites added Harlow into as many lyrics as they could and engaged with the audience, obviously really enjoying playing at The Square and raising a huge roar of approval when they told the crowd they had been for a Nandos at the Water Gardens earlier. When the band finished, the stomping and cheering from the audience seemed to go on and on and we were all disappointed that it was over but after quickly freshening up the boys were back out encouraging everyone to keep dancing; the night was far from ending. The atmosphere was like being at a house party where we were all best friends with the band.

I was lucky enough to get to chat with The Aggrolites for a long time after the show and they were so laidback it really was like hanging out with old friends – you don’t even need to try my patented Attempted Murder Opener if you want to talk to them about anything and everything. Super cool lead guitarist and singer Jesse Wagner’s cure for a broken heart? “You play music. You write songs about it.” Jeff’s advice on how English people can do better LA accents? “Don’t be too nasal.” Jeff said my LA accent was very good, which did wonders for my ego. I sang something to illustrate a point I was making and Roger Rivas, pianist, and Jeff told me I have a good voice – there is no way I wasn’t putting that in this review! I’m basically a rockstar now, officially, and The Aggrolites encourage everyone to pick up an instrument and play music they love with their friends.

The band had crates of beer in their dressing room which they were happy to share. I thanked Roger for the drinks and explained I had to save my last fiver to get a taxi back, because the street lights get turned off at night. “That’s terrible,” Roger said. “The Aggrolites say turn the lights on!”

As they drove off to the Travelodge in their big white van, I realised that I already missed The Aggrolites. It had only been a few hours but I had got used to having them in Harlow. They filled The Square with actual LA magic born from the pure love of the music they are making with their best friends and I can’t get over how much fun I had. I would drop anything to watch both bands again. I want to be watching them again now!

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