Make some joyful noise with 79rs Gang | The Listener | Chicago Reader

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Make some joyful noise with 79rs Gang

This Mardi Gras Indian troupe play music for staying loud in the streets.


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Jermaine Bossier and Romeo Bougere of 79rs Gang - PHOTOS BY DIWANG VALDEZ
  • Photos by Diwang Valdez
  • Jermaine Bossier and Romeo Bougere of 79rs Gang

On Friday night I was up so late reading—making the best of my election-related insomnia—that when the networks started calling it for Biden around 10:30 the next morning, I was still asleep. Though I'd been spending a truly inadvisable amount of time on Twitter, I didn't learn Trump had lost from the Internet. Instead I was woken up by crowds of people screaming for joy in the street, honking their car horns, and banging pots and pans. Someone across my building's courtyard started blasting Kool & the Gang's "Celebration" out the window.

In that spirit—specifically the spirit of making party music in the street—I'm sharing Expect the Unexpected, the recent second album by Mardi Gras Indian troupe 79rs Gang. Formed by two reconciled rivals, Big Chief Jermaine Bossier from the Seventh Ward Creole Hunters and Big Chief Romeo Bougere from the Ninth Ward Hunters, the group combines the parade chants and marching-band drums of the New Orleans second-line tradition with brash horns, propulsive rap-singing, and hip-hop-flavored electronic production by Eric Heigle of the Lost Bayou Ramblers. I'm embedding the song "Brand New Day" for what I hope are obvious reasons, but you should really click through and listen to the whole record.

And as an aside, the book I was reading was Elizabeth Bear's Ancestral Night. Highly recommended if you like your gonzo space opera to come with warmth, humor, witty banter, emotional honesty, and zero-gravity shipboard cats.  v

The Listener is a weekly sampling of music Reader staffers love. Absolutely anything goes, and you can reach us at

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