Powerhouse of Hope: Satsang Brought the Love to Lark Hall March 26th

ALBANY – Lark Hall knows how to start your week off right. The historic venue hosted national pop/rap band Satsang on Sunday, March 26th. It rolled in a feel-good vibe for music lovers who came to sing, dance, and even practice a little cognitive behavioral therapy along the way. With opener Graham Good, the two sets of music not only sounded good but used uplifting lyrics to guide listeners through to feeling good as well.

Photo by Jim Gilbert

Good’s opening set had me at “golden retriever sticker.” As we walked into the venue, the singer-songwriter stood alone on the stage, crooning about talking to himself the way one would talk to a dog in the song “End All Be All.” His introduction to the piece explained that we all talk to our dogs so sweetly but not as kindly to ourselves. “Maybe say something nice, like, aren’t you cute? And would you like a treat?” he smiled. Good’s girlfriend Macie drew him as a golden retriever playing guitar, and the drawing was featured as a sticker on his merch table. (Yes, Jim bought me one, don’t worry.)

Good shared he wasn’t always so happy-go-lucky, and while he tries to sell himself that way, he knows that he has to continue to do good work to accept himself and continue to find joy. His song “Growing Pains” reflected that insight.

Photo by Jim Gilbert

“I’m from Colorado, I live in my mom’s basement, and I’m in love with a girl named Macie. I’m living my dream,” he charmed the crowd, who couldn’t seem to get enough of his original music. Good ended his set with a montage of hits from Tom Petty (among others, including songs suggested by the audience).

Between sets, it was hard not to notice the very young, hip, and generously kind crowd that filled Lark Hall with smiles. A young couple spoke to us (even asked Jim and me if we were “sweeties,” which I love, and from now on, that’s how I’m introducing him – as my sweetie) with a genuine interest in our task at the show, a family with a young child danced nearby, and a stranger approached me thinking I was someone else and then bashfully apologizing. The crowd felt earnestly present for themselves and those around them.

Photo by Jim Gilbert

This perfectly fit Sansang’s message, of course. The band’s name means “being with good people” or “being in the presence of truth,” and you could actually feel that vibe resonating across Lark Hall’s beautiful wood floors between people. As Satsang band members took the stage to produce a beachy pop/rap sound, the feel-good vibe swirled through the place, sharing what yogis often refer to as “bliss.” The interconnection between the performers and audience, sound and lyrics, history, and present powerfully vibrated at Lark Hall.

Starting with “We’ll Stand” and transitioning beautifully to “Getting Old,” the band played without breaks, gently tripping from one song about gratitude to another. It was shocking to hear band leader Drew McManus disclose that he was sick. “I’ve been traveling without getting sick for five years, and today I’m sick,” he shared. “But I’m the master of my vessel, and we sail when I say sail, so right now I say sail,” he shared to cheering fans. His energy never revealed the illness.

Photo by Jim Gilbert

The band masterfully wove teasers of Black Eyed Peas, The Doors, and Zeppelin into their songs with sunny reggae chords threaded throughout. The band’s original tunes bravely stare down hard topics like facing mental illness, dealing with harsh critics on social media, and sticking around despite feeling unwelcome. “Made 4 This” empowered listeners to sing the last words, “I was made for this,” in affirmation. “What I Am” spoke to responding to lies about oneself on social media and dealing with what others think or know about us. And in “Remember Jah,” Satsang’s message to “Love all, serve all and remember Jah” had fans jumping up and down with glee.

But even with this upbeat, uplifting message, the band was careful to communicate with honesty that it isn’t always easy to be…well, that easy. It takes a bit of work to be self-aware and accept oneself.

Photo by Jim Gilbert

The band shocked me with a teaser of “Riders on the Storm” before launching into their original “Breathe.” The dynamic balance between reggae, rap, and rock seemed flawless, perhaps even more so due to their professional musicianship.

Before playing their new unreleased song “Morning Light,” McManus again shared that he wrote the song after a “mini dark age in my life.” He described a period of self-imposed isolation, “intentionally sitting with myself,” and his depression. He found hope in a friend’s wise words that every storm runs out of rain and wrote those words into the song.

Photo by Jim Gilbert

“I told myself, this is hard, this is painful, but it will eventually be done,” he explained before singing a new tune with compelling honesty.

The band covered Zeppelin’s “Going to California” with an acoustic version before pushing through to the end with “Be Love.” During the final song, McManus asked folks to think of a negative thought or situation and then had folks raise their hands in the air as the band crescendoed into a frenzy before letting the thought go with permission – and screams in unison.

Photo by Jim Gilbert

With messages of hope and positivity (“I deserve to be here / and so do you” were the final lyrics of the night), Sansung started the week for listeners on a hopeful note. The band’s original music should absolutely be on your playlist if for no other reason than to improve your mood and self-talk — but also your spirit, as their blissful sounds lift spirits and rejoice in the presence of life.

Kudos to Lark Hall for recognizing that was just what we needed on this late March night to push us into the community renewed with hope and love.

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