Michael Franti & Spearhead - Cuthbert Amphitheater - Eugene, OR
by Finn Turnbull
on Jun 26th, 2018
One big Franti family of fellow friends and fans occupied the Cuthbert Amphitheater on Friday, June 22nd, to witness the Eugene installment of Michael Franti & Spearhead’s Stay Human Tour. Along with Franti for the fun were Victoria Canal and Dustin Thomas.
Michael Franti shows these days are always in the essence of unity, where crowd involvement isn’t only a possibility, it’s a given. Starting in the hip-hop realm, he’s climbed up the mainstream ladder switching to reggae and pop in order to extend a message of pure love. Much in the vain of classic artists from the 60’s and 70’s like the Beatles or Bob Marley, Michael Franti’s main mission seems to have evolved into spreading togetherness. So naturally, humans of all ages and ethnicities could be found at the Cuthbert on Friday night, ready to soul rock.
After a solo piano performance from Victoria Canal and a folk rock set from Dustin Thomas, Franti and his band Spearhead started the evening off right with some summertime songs like “Once A Day” and “The Sound of Sunshine,” which included a lucky child from the audience, brandishing his own mic while singing and dancing with Michael. “The Only Thing Missing is You” followed and Franti broke the ice early for fans by encouraging neighborly hugs. Franti’s preferred method of conveying the importance of this message was face-to-face conversation, in the form of song. In fact, his favorite way of performing a majority of his music was from within the audience itself. Every few tunes, Franti climbed offstage, via a ladder specifically in place for this, and traversed the audience with a guitar, headset mic, and no shoes, because he refuses to wear them while there are still children alive in need of them. Early on, while swimming in a sea of admirers, he removed his jacket and unveiled his t-shirt which read “I really DO care,” in bold white on the back. This caused an eruption of applause.
Spearhead and their humble band leader cranked out a number of numbers spanning Franti’s recent career including several that involved Victoria Canal and Dustin Thomas returning to the stage. The two up-and-comers joined in, freestyling and singing some new music they’ve been working on such as Victoria and Michael’s “Flower in the Gun.” Franti’s music is not complete without his hospitable habit of asking the crowd “How Ya Feelin’?”, requesting them to jump, and of course, entering the crowd to jump along with them. Another one of his unique crowd-interactions is his inclination to extend songs by letting them cool off during what is suspected to be the final verse, and then bringing back the chorus with tenfold energy.
Toward the end of the show, the mood was brought down to acoustic-stool-lampshade for some sincere approaches to more new songs with Victoria. Franti and Spearhead played so long with the crowd that curfew had nearly been reached, but he ended the evening appropriately with his biggest hit, “Say Hey (I Love You),” and his signature show-stopper of bringing children from the audience onstage to help him spread the love. After the mics were turned off, the Franti family held each other for an arm-in-arm chant of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Eye-witnesses reported humans performing selfless acts of random kindness in the parking lot shortly after.