Brooklyn based Antibalas served as my introduction to afrobeat and its Nigerian creator Fela Kuti. I've seen Antibalas perform at least six times since 2003 and they continue to be one of the best live shows around.
I like to dance, but not just to anything, it takes a special kind of groove to get me going. With a four/five piece horn section and three person percussion section, these guys do not disappoint.
Today Antibalas played an afternoon set at the Treasure Island Music Festival in San Francisco. For those that do not know the Bay Area, Treasure Island is located in the Bay between San Francisco and Oakland, and the views are postcard worthy.
The highlight of todays show was the fiercely political song "Indictment." Stuart Bogie, took the lead vocal as well as giving musical cues with the energy of one possessed. Watching him during this number is pure entertainment.
What I really love about Antibalas, and afrobeat in general, is the radical politics that automatically come with the music. Due to the political life and times of Fela Kuti, afrobeat is aggressively anti-authoritative and populist by definition. And in light of the Bush administration, Antibalas' message is loudly heard. The song "Indictment" is not only an awesomely composed and executed afrobeat song, it is politically very specific. No one in attendance will miss its meaning.
At the Treasure Island Music Festival, the crowd was totally into the song even before the vocals started, but when Stuart Bogie screamed "Condoleezza Rice! Indictment!" The crowd went nuts, almost taking them by surprise at its forcefulness. He continued to list "George W. Bush! Indictment! Donald Rumsfield! Indictment! Order in the court!" But my favorite of the day? "Bill O-Reilly! Indictment!" I would love Steven Colbert to get ahold of that one.
Watch this short clip from the Langerado Music Festival in Miami of the same song. If I can find a good clip of today's performance on youtube, I will add it. Check out their myspace page as well as the track called "Takatif" that's in my playlist over there to the right. I've also added "Indictment" to the playlist for now.
Antibalas is now playing in Fela! A New Musical about the life of Fela Anikulapo Kuti until October 5th off Broadway in New York City. I've heard it's very, very good.