Sign up for our mailing list Real artists creating records on their own terms

Sign up for our mailing list


Monday, April 30th, 2007

Antibalas - Chicago Tribune Review

By Bob Gendron Special to the Tribune Published April 30, 2007

Hoisting a large piece of silver sheet metal over his head, Antibalas vocalist/percussionist Amayo briefly glanced at the Park West crowd as if to give them warning before bringing the noise. Shaking the material, which upon contact produced a thunderstorm of crackling sounds and lightninglike reflections, brought a violent end to "Beaten Metal," a composition whose wordless structure and organic improvisation were all the rage at a Friday night concert where messages of resistance often took the form of hypnotic grooves rather than declarative statements.

Celebrated for its political remarks and tireless performances, Antibalas has established itself as Afrobeat's primary torchbearers, an ensemble that intrigues on record but mesmerizes onstage. Partially because of a lackadaisical, medium-size audience (more than a third of which left the 2-hour show before it concluded), and partially because the set had too many extended instrumentals and too few vocalized songs, the Brooklyn-based group was unable to sustain its usual artist-audience dynamic. Not that the percussive-heavy music -- an African-cum-Latin blend of frenzied funk, guitar-scratched R&B and organ-stoked jazz -- or animated band members were responsible for the energy deficit.

When he wasn't tapping hand drums and banging cowbells, Amayo danced as if he were stepping on hot coals. Lanky trumpeter Jordan McLean provided comedic relief and approached the microphone as the Minister of Paranoia, sarcastically addressing the connection between cell phones and bees before leading the 11-member collective into "Government Magic."

And the four-piece horn section, whose brassy dialogues were played as alternating bursts, gave a simmer-down reggae feel to "Sanctuary" and a sassy sway to a cover of Fela Kuti's "Ikoyi Blindness."

Still, on an evening during which concertgoers seemed tired, the mysterious, albeit slow-moving "I.C.E." seemed out of place, inspiring table talk instead of sweaty motion.

With multiple harmonies, desert-blues riffs and swinging vibes, "War Hero" proved the opposite, its polyrhythmic spree showing how protest can be both barbed and fun.

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune href=",1," target="_blank">

Facebook | Twitter | Google Plus

Browse by Artist

1514All Artists 95Tom Waits 61Mavis Staples 52Neko Case 51Lost In The Trees 50Sean Rowe 48Dr. Dog 41Jolie Holland
40Bettye LaVette 38The Milk Carton Kids 37Man Man 33Tim Fite 33DeVotchKa 31Islands 31Grinderman 30Tinariwen 27Galactic 27Wilco 27Son Little 24Michael Franti and Spe... 22Bob Mould 22William Elliott Whitmo... 22Saintseneca 21Nick Cave & The Bad Se... 21The Frames 20Joe Henry 19Booker T. Jones 19Sage Francis 18Doe Paoro 17John K. Samson 17Yann Tiersen 16Ramblin Jack Elliott 16Jason Lytle 15Christopher Paul Stell... 14Glen Hansard 13Daniel Lanois 13Billy Bragg 13Andy Shauf 12Xavier Rudd 12Xenia Rubinos 12Peter Silberman 11The Weakerthans 11Lyrics Born 11Rain Machine 11Mose Allison 11Roky Erickson 11The Antlers 11Calexico 11Prism Tats 10The Swell Season 10The Melodic 10Delicate Steve 9Marianne Faithfull 9N.A.S.A. 9Deafheaven 9So Much Light 9Cameron Avery 8Solillaquists of Sound 8Greg Graffin 8Cadence Weapon 8The Coup 7Elliott Smith 7Eddie Izzard 7Dead Man's Bones 7Alec Ounsworth 7Beth Orton 7Kelly Hogan 7Title Fight 7Jade Jackson 7Los Angeles Police Dep... 6A Girl Called Eddy 6Busdriver 6Os Mutantes 6Kate Bush 6Broken Twin 6The Drums 5One Day As A Lion 5The Field 5Keaton Henson 5Beat Connection 5Japandroids 5The Dream Syndicate 4Ersi Arvizu 4Marketa Irglova 4Pops Staples 3Danny Cohen 3Sierra Leones Refugee... 3Petra Haden 3Cass McCombs 3Girlpool 3Curtis Harding 3Ben Harper and Charlie... 2Various Artists: RANGO 2Jeff Tweedy 1Tricky 1Joe Strummer And The M... 1Youth Group 1Blackalicious 1Antibalas 1Porter Wagoner 1Various Artists: ROGUE... 1The Locust 1Rogue's Gallery 1Kronos Quartet with Br... 1Simian Mobile Disco 1case/lang/veirs 1Merle Haggard 1Un Blonde 1Rafiq Bhatia
See Full List+