You can try, but it's pretty tough to say you don't like Michael Franti. You can be the sort of person who somehow, someway, hates hip-hop, punk rock, reggae, folk and dance music all at once and still find yourself unable to dislike the giant, dreadlocked artist. Franti's career has seen him making music from each of those genres, and probably others, too - and even if you don't like his albums, go ahead and check out his smiley, carefree, barefooted, uber positive, wild-as-all-hell live show and then try not to at least smile.Now, there is probably someone reading this thinking, or perhaps saying aloud, "Hey jerkwad. I don't like Michael Franti or his stupid face or his stupid music."
OK, maybe you don't like him, but you're a rarity. You, my friend are like oblong Skittles or three-chambered peanuts. What I'm getting at here is that Michael Franti and Spearhead is one of only a few acts that will get people up and dancing who don't necessarily identify with the style of music the band plays.
And there will be even more people dancing when Franti and his high-energy dance machine take the Les Schwab Amphitheater stage on Thursday night and here's why: The last time Franti came to town, it was part of a successful tour meant to drum up hype before the release of the band's more-reggae-inspired-than-before album, All Rebel Rockers. That record did well, but slowly faded from the mainstream consciousness... until about a year later when the sunshiny song "Say Hey (I Love You)" blew up big time, popping up on the soundtrack to romantic comedies, commercials for lime-flavored beer and commercial radio.
While Franti has soldiered on as a politically minded (sometimes to the extent that would earn him a "rabble rouser" tag) party starter with a steady and sizeable following, he has now - at age 44 - suddenly become, well, a pop star. By now, we expected to be writing about his next album, The Sound of Sunshine, but that disc's release has been pushed back to the fall - yet it's easy to predict that it will find its way into the hands of his new fans. It's good to see someone like Franti - who has done more than his share of relief work and traveled to war-torn places across the globe, hoping to spread his peaceful message - find success this far along in his career.
And that's just another reason to like him. Also, please don't call me a jerkwad.
Michael Franti and Spearhead, Flobots
6:30pm Thursday, August 5. Les Schwab Amphitheater,
344 SW Shevlin Hixon Dr. $37/GA, plus fees. All Ages.