Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra


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Good lefties that they are, the members of Antibalas go out of their way to give voice to the opposition--the Brooklyn-based Afrobeat orchestra posts reviews on its Web site that criticize it for not being as original or as persecuted as Afrobeat's Nigerian founder, Fela Kuti. But it's unfair to fault the rants of baritone-sax-toting bandleader Martin Perna for lacking Fela's stern authority; archetypal figures don't show up that often, after all, and no group on Shanachie's recently released survey of the band's contemporaries, Nu Afrobeat Experience--including the one led by Fela's son Femi--has a front man who matches Fela's charisma. Instead Antibalas, whose Spanish name means "bulletproof," slays the competition where it counts: in the groove. The essence of Afrobeat is a rhythm that's as hard and open-ended as anything the JBs put down, with enough buoyancy to carry massed horn riffs and long instrumental solos. On its defiantly old-school sophomore LP, Talkatif (Ninja Tune), which the band recorded and produced on its own, Antibalas eschews the annoying synths and clunky electronic drums that hobble so many bands on Nu Afrobeat Experience in favor of vintage organ and a six-strong percussion section. This is a benefit for HotHouse, where the concert was originally scheduled to take place. Yerba Buena opens. Friday, May 23, 6 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Robert Smith.

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