Antibalas is magic
Seeing Antibalas last night I was reminded of Bill Graham's line about the Grateful Dead: "They're not the best at what they do. They're the only ones that do what they do." Maybe somewhere in West Africa you can find some competition in the Afrobeat game, but for now in the Western Hemisphere there is Antibalas and... yeah that's pretty much it.
When I see Antibalas killing it like last night - a dozen-plus guys playing together with such basic, primal groove - it honestly elevates me to almost transcendental plane. I think I discovered some new dance moves inside myself as I surrendered to what was happening.
And of course they are from the neighborhood! (Williamsburg, Brooklyn for those keeping score at home.) Before "Government Magic," Martin Perna, the band's founder, said a few words about how the band started in Southside Williamsburg 18 years ago in a complex of apartments they shared with Sharon Jones and TV on the Radio. "Of course we can't afford to live in the neighborhood anymore,'' he said. But, he added, "Our wallets are not strong. But our music is strong."
Strong is an understatement. Thankfully, Antibalas are returning to the Bowl the next two Wednesdays here in November. The first show of the residency last week focused on music from their first two albums and last night was stuff from their third and fourth albums. The next two weeks will continue the chronological journey through their amazing catalog. Don't miss out!