The Elovaters are one of those bands who don’t neatly fit into any one genre of music, but instantly invoke comparisons to some of the most popular bands in touring right now. What genre exactly is Sublime, or Slightly Stoopid or Pepper or Stick Figure?
For most music fans, the simple answer would be that the Elovaters are a reggae music act, and that answer would not draw any protest from Jackson Wetherbee, frontman for the six-person group that is selling out clubs across North America. The West Coast leg of the band’s Endless Summer club tour has already sold more than 34,000 tickets with 13 dates on the West Coast run already sold out, including the 1,000-cap Neptune Theater in Seattle, 1,000-cap Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom in Berkeley and two sold-out nights at the 500-cap Cornerstone in Berkeley. Their success is due in part to the huge positive reception for their 2023 breakout album “Endless Summer” which ended the year at No. 14 on the Billboard Reggae albums chart and was the second highest rated album on the chart to be released in 2023.
Technically, Elovaters are not actually a reggae band, Wetherbee tells Billboard, although like Sublime and its more modern contemporaries, much of the band’s music does feature dancehall reggae-inspired propulsive drumming and rock steady, up-stroke guitar work that fans of the genre have used in music such as ska and ska-punk. Honoring reggae’s own distinctive roots in Jamaica as a potent political and religious movement, a number of bands have adopted the genre name Cali Roots or Cali Riddims. While the Elovaters have a large West Coast fan base, they hail from a small town near Cape Cod, Mass., less than an hour drive from Boston, and have adopted the larger genre title American Progressive Roots.
“There’s a lot of bands out there that have their root in reggae music and everyone in the Elovaters grew up listening to more traditional reggae along with rock and hip-hop,” Wetherbee tells Billboard. “Those influences are what makes it progressive. We’re not following the traditional Jamaican style of reggae, but we are influenced by reggae. Instead of focusing on trying to fit into any one subcategory, we find our best music comes when we focus on a certain vibe or mood.”
The fact that he is even leading a rootsy beach band is a bit of a fluke, he tells Billboard. As a child, music was a means of overcoming a difficult speech impediment that came with a difficult stutter, Wetherbee’s mom Liz Elliott told Billboard in an email, noting, “I recall vividly one day asking him to sing a song about his day. He never stuttered when he sang. He started talking in a singsongy voice to get his verbal needs out,” after months of working together, the stutter was gone.
Wetherbee said years of singing in front of an audience, sometimes seven nights a week, helped solidify his confidence and ability to perform as a carefree frontman who exudes confidence and embraces the beach-side lifestyle.
“I’m always trying to piece together songs that just hit me in a certain way,” Wetherbee says. “My songs don’t always end up being the song that I first heard in my head, but as a band, we’ve found a way to hone in on who we are musically and create a sound and style that brings joy to our fans.
On Thursday (Jan. 25), the Elovaters released the video for their latest single, “M.I.A.,” from Endless Summer. Check out the video below and look for tickets to their Endless Summer West Coast tour at theelovaters.com.
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