By David Garcia
The last time Los Angeles' Fortunate Youth took the stage at The Observatory in Santa Ana they were celebrating five years of their existence in proper form. Since then, the smoke trails left behind from their microphone-sized joints have barely faded away as South Bay L.A.'s beloved reggae outfit makes their way back to Orange County nearly five months later.
Known as one of today's most energetic and "HIGHly" animated live performances, Fortunate Youth brings a live show unlike any other. Throughout their sets, frontman Dan Kelly is seen skanking across the stage as his powerful voice echoes throughout any venue with lyrics advocating good times, "Peace, Love and Unity."
At the same time, brothers Corey and Jered Draskovich switch back and forth between keys and bass as the set unfolds and the irie vibes circulate from the stage onto the crowd. Also in the mix is guitarist, Greg Gelb, and signature percussionist, Travi Bongo. According to Jered, "Me, Corey, Greg and Travi all play bass at one point or another."
Since their five-year anniversary show held at The Observatory, Fortunate Youth had been in the studio working on new music before heading on their current nationwide Fall With Friends tour. The first leg of the tour featured long-time friends, Ease Up, with added support on select dates from Hawaii's The Steppas, New York's New Kingston and Louisiana's Ashes of Babylon. While in Chicago, Fortunate Youth paid a visit to the Audiotree headquarters for a second time to record another intimate interview-styled jam session. The segment, which took place on September 27, became available for all fans to enjoy a couple weeks ago on October 16.
With the second half of the tour kicking off this Friday in Las Vegas, Fortunate Youth has brought on a completely different set of friends and opening acts for fans to enjoy. This time, the journey will include Los Angeles' The Expanders, Santa Cruz's Thrive, and Highdro from Las Vegas.
When asked what made the group decide to bring on so many different artists on their tour across the U.S., Jered responded, "We really just wanted to bring as many acts as we could and bring the best show we could for all the fans who come out to support everywhere! We're stoked to be back in California, back home and ready to explore the West Coast with some of our good buddies!"
Throughout the years, Fortunate Youth has shared the stage at The Observatory (formerly known as The Galaxy) with OC locals; Seedless, The Simpkin Project, and Pacific Dub, as well as notable reggae acts The Movement, True Press, Natural Vibrations, Mystic Roots, Tatanka and more. In response to what makes this venue stand out from the rest in Orange County and Southern California, Jered stated, "The crew, the energy, and the good times that have been had there already. We've really enjoyed the shows we've played there and this one should be no different! Come enjoy the vibes!"
Be on the lookout as Fortunate Youth is known for playing a mixture of songs from their previous releases, including 2013's It's All A Jam, 2011's Irie State of Mind, and 2010's Up-Lifted EP.
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Jered adds, "We're excited to have NEW music comin' early 2015! We're currently writing and finishing our next full-length album right now and it should be ready soon!" Don't be surprised if you hear some new tunes as the band celebrates Travi Bongo's 30th birthday this Sunday!
Fortunate Youth performs with The Expanders and Thrive at The Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; http://www.observatoryoc.com. Sun., 7 p.m. $5. All Ages.