InCuya Music Festival: Kent-born Tropidelic takes the stage on Sunday

August 20, 2018

InCuya Music Festival: Kent-born Tropidelic takes the stage on Sunday

CLEVELAND, Ohio – So you wanna be a music star, eh? Might want to talk to Kent State alum Matthew Roads first. It’s not quite as glamorous as you might think.

“That’s true,″ said Roads, whose band Tropidelic is one of 25 that will be in town this weekend for the inaugural two-day InCuya Music Festival.

“Right now, I’m in moving van with seven bunks we built in ourselves,″ said Roads, calling last month from somewhere west of Omaha, en route to a gig in Denver. “We sleep wherever we can find overnight parking and we shower at Planet Fitnesses to save money.″

Livin’ the dream, right?

“It’s great onstage, but there’s hard work involved,″ he said. “For bands just starting out, if you’re banking on the fat that somebody will pluck you out of Northeast Ohio, you’re dreaming, bro.″

Tropidelic is not a new band, having formed on the Kent campus in 2008. With four releases, these road warriors who’ve been part of the Warped Tour, Reggae Rise Up, Cali Roots and hosted their own Freakstomp in Medina, have been picking ‘em up and putting ’em down for a million miles or so, doing 125 to 150 shows a year.

And it looks like it just might work.

“When I started, it was just something adjacent to the parties,″ Roads said.

“Now, the goal is to have this not only pay our bills, but hopefully support our lives and lifestyles moving forward,″ he said. “Things are looking good. We’ve gotten to play some of the biggest reggae festivals in the country.″

The band’s evolution has seen its sound change a bit over the years, as personnel have rotated in . . . and out. It happens.

“We now have a horn section,” Roads said. That simple addition has “enabled me to be more diverse with horns and different members contributing to the writing.″

“The initial thought was to make reggae fusion music in an area where there’s not a lot of that happening,″ he said, meaning Northeast Ohio. But the result is “kind of a unique hybrid of funk, hip-hop, reggae and rock.″

“It’s almost cliché,″ he said. “We don’t want to be put in a box, and we pride ourselves on being different.

“We want to set ourselves apart, and we try to do that with the music as well as the live show,″ Roads said. “Part of that is letting the individual [band members’] personalities bleed into everything, not fit a format.″

Those personalities – or more accurately, the blend of those personalities – is something many new bands don’t realize. Think about that converted moving van that’s now Tropidelic’s road home. There’s no escape from each other, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that few bands start and finish with the same members.

“We’ve been around each other enough now,″ said Roads of the current incarnation of Tropidelic. “You sort a lot of that out in the front end [but] I’ve always said it’s more important to be a good member than to be a good musician.

“The stage portion is 10 percent of it at best,″ he said. “Most of it is being in the band and doing the back end. It’s about finding people who appreciate and understand what you’re doing.″

That would include the folks at the InCuya Music Festival, in which Tropidelic has a 5:25 p.m. Sunday spot on the smaller Lake Stage.

“We got a call from our buddies over at the Agora,″ said Roads, explaining how the band became part of the inaugural festival. The Agora is booked by AEG Presents, which is also serving as the promoter for the InCuya festival.

So in an ironic way, the band is returning to the starting line to expand its racetrack.

“We played around our region for a lot of years, and we feel like we’ve experienced decent success in the Great Lakes area,″ he said. But it is a marathon.

“Of course, we have a long way to go.″

And a nice, converted moving van for the trip.

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