WOW TALES: The Wailers, with Desolution, Harley Jackson

Thursday, May 30, 2024

The Wailers

 

I have seen countless shows at the WOW Hall going back to the 1990s, yet I can’t recall ever seeing a larger crowd than what we had tonight. A sellout of all tickets, plus an ample guest list and full staff/volunteer crew, meant having to shoe-horn in everyone to enjoy the music, and despite the tight space enjoy they most certainly did. This show may have been an all-time record for us in capacity, or if not certainly in the running for it.

Tonight was a concert, but it was also a celebration of one of the most important albums in history and individual that has positively impacted so much of the world. It has been 40 years since the release of Bob Marley’s “Legend” album – a greatest hits collection posthumously released, and in honoring that iconic compilation of music that has been globally embraced the surviving members of The Wailers have embarked on a national tour playing the most recognizable hits of Marley’s remarkable career. We were proud to present this show in Eugene — of course it helped that the band’s manager lives here in Eugene and he had been adamant that the band needed to experience a Eugene crowd for themselves. Thankfully this town didn’t disappoint us or the band, as the crowd happily sang along to nearly every word all night.

Festivities began with Desolution, a largely instrumental reggae band based here in Eugene. Our start ran behind schedule while we dealt with complications from managing the massive crowd, but there was still a large collective inside by the time Desolution began. The second opener was Harley Jackson – a local hip hop artist. The wide-eyed promoter tandem behind this show, whose jubilance in the tremendous turnout for their first-ever organized show was very evident, took to the stage briefly afterwards to thank the crowd before the headliners took the stage.

Behind the scenes things at times were a little hectic as we worked to ensure those on guests lists were admitted and individuals with sensory issues needing noise-canceling headphones were properly assisted. Our intrepid crew of staff, volunteers, and security stayed positive, despite the ample crowd size inevitably causing a little stress.

With children, elderly, and everyone in-between packed into the WOW Hall dancing and feeling the music, the vibes in our venerable, historic building were palpable. The Wailers, which include some of the original backing band members alongside younger musicians filling out the sound and providing vocals, ran through a setlist that consisted of one iconic Bob Marley classic after another. Every song was immediately recognizable, every lyric memorized from countless listens for decades, and each break an opportunity for the band to restate their celebratory vision statement of peace, love, and unity. The vocalists departed the stage to “Exodus” while the rhythm section remained for an extended jam, before singers returned for an encore of three songs. Culminating with a rousing performance of “Could You Be Loved,” multiple family members and kids were brought on stage while the whole crowd jumped with the band through the triumphant final bars of that immortal song. With our “floating dance floor” already having a bit of spring, feeling 600 people jumping simultaneously on our floor gave it a wave, almost like a mild earthquake.

After several group bows and waves from the band as a final goodbye the massive crowd began filing out from an experience that will go down in the WOW Hall record books — one of the largest and overwhelmingly positive concerts in the WOW Hall’s rich history. Thank you Eugene and our wonderful staff and volunteers for sharing in this incredible experience.

 

 

 

-Kurt

WOW Hall Marketing Director

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