BY MATT MUNOZ, Contributing columnist
It was a year ago that Iration -- a band that stands out in the wildly popular California reggae rock scene -- last sold out the house in Bakersfield. But when the band returns Tuesday, fans will need to roll with one major change: the loss of longtime co-lead vocalist Kai Rediske, who left in April, a move that stunned followers of the Santa Barbara band.
"Kai was a huge part of the writing process and my main partner as far as writing music goes, and doing lyrics," said lead vocalist/guitarist Micah Pueschel during a phone interview. "He just got to a point where he didn't wanna tour like that anymore."
But the band hasn't skipped a beat, touring nonstop to prove that their musical bonds remain strong. They'll let Bakersfield fans decide for themselves what the band is like without Rediske at Elements Lounge on Tuesday. The band will play material from "Automatic," which topped the Billboard Reggae Albums chart upon its release in July.
While Rediske's departure meant changes to the creative process for Pueschel, the singer said the decision by his longtime friend was understandable. Life was just pulling the brakes.
"You wanna settle down, have a normal life, and that's totally acceptable and normal. He moved on, there's no bad will or disagreement. He decided what was best for him, and it ended being what was best for us as well."
Though Pueschel conceded fans have had to adjust to the changes, the band's repertoire was never affected. The group has continued performing older tracks along with a healthy set-list of new material.
"'Automatic' was received really well. The fact that it's more of an eclectic album as well, with a lot of different styles, was a challenge at first, but it caught on and helped us develop a new number of fans."
Not content with sticking to their California home base for shows, the band has spread its wings across the country.
According to Pueschel, despite the change in climate and attitude, audiences on the East Coast have been eager to embrace the band.
"It's actually great over there. I mean, there are some cities on the East Coast where we do way better than on the West Coast, even California. We go to Florida, up the coast to New York, Boston. All those places, we do very well."
For Pueschel, Iration's success across the country can be attributed in part to the determination of other artists in the genre, such as Pepper (who sold out B Ryder's last weekend), The Expendables, Slightly Stoopid and Rebelution, who keep the sound alive and relevant far away from the palm trees of the West Coast.
"It's growing and a testament to all the bands in the genre out there touring and pushing it, legitimizing it. We're real bands, with no backing tracks or deejays. We play live instruments every night, and I think that's what really moves people."
I've caught Iration twice in Bakersfield, and the band sold out both shows. The group had an almost hypnotic effect on their fans, all of whom sing, sway and smoke.
Joining Pueschel onstage will be Adam Taylor, bass; Cayson Peterson, keyboards; and Joseph Dickens, drums.
"Bakersfield can expect a more fine-tuned show, some old songs, new songs, some in-betweeners, and hear and all-around good night of music."
Tuesday's show kicks off at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. All ages admitted. Also appearing are Natty Vibes and The Movement. Elements Venue is at 3401 Chester Ave. For more information, visit timgardeapresents.com.
Carl Verheyen at American Sound Recording, 2231 R St., 7:30 p.m. Thursday, $30, 204-7685. A member of the smash hit British rock group Supertramp since 1985, Verheyen has played to millions of enthusiastic fans in sold-out arenas worldwide. Not just a critically acclaimed musician, vocalist, songwriter, arranger, producer and educator, Verheyen is commonly regarded as a guitar virtuoso capable of playing any style of music with remarkable mastery and conviction. He has been one of L.A.'s elite first-call session players for the past 25 years, playing on hundreds of records, movie soundtracks and television shows, and has graced the pages of countless industry publications and been the subject of articles chronicling his rise to the forefront of the modern guitar scene. In short: The guy can shred.
The Mothership DJ Night 7th Anniversary at On the Rocks, 1517 18th St., 9 p.m., Saturday, $5, 327-7625. For those who don't enjoy the glitzy glam stuffiness of club life, The Mothership deejay night, held the last Saturday of every month, is for you. Preparing to celebrate their seventh anniversary downtown, this eclectic gathering of hip-hop, classic funk, world music, and Latin vinyl enthusiasts will be making a permanent landing at their new home at On the Rocks. Back for the occasion is Mothership rotating resident deejays: Qwiz, Chuckone, El Oms and DJ Frane on deck, plus live performances by XL Middleton and Moniquea. According to Mothership founder Sabrina Ramirez, who also spins by the name of Sabre, "It's our party, and we bump it if we want to." I can dig that. On the rare night I get a chance to get my groove on, you'll always find me here. Highly recommended.