Songhoy Blues, DJ Warp | Thalia Hall | International | Chicago Reader

Songhoy Blues, DJ Warp All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Fri., June 5, 8 p.m. 2015

In recent years guitar bands from the Sahara like Tinariwen, Etran Finatawa, and Group Doueh have found an audience beyond the usual world-music market by pushing a bluesy sound toward open-minded rock fans. Tinariwen have even collaborated with American figures like TV on the Radio, Chavez’s Matt Sweeney, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band without appreciably altering their deep, hypnotic sound. It was only a matter of time before an African band would turn up the rock side of the quotient—and that’s exactly what Mali’s Songhoy Blues do on their impressive U.S. debut, Music in Exile (Atlantic). Coproduced by Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (who also plays guitar on much of the record), the band generally eschew simplistic 4/4 patterns—though percussionist Nathanaël Dembelé does favor aggressively pounding a drum kit over playing clopping calabash grooves—and revel in heavy syncopation and guitar licks that cycle through one another (never mind a song like “Nick,” which choogles with almost as much gusto as a ZZ Top track). If the band seem to summon more intensity than their Sahel counterparts, it’s with good reason: Songhoy Blues formed in the wake of the early 2012 uprising in northern Mali, which drove guitarists Garba Touré and Aliou Touré and bassist Oumar Touré to flee their hometowns for Mali’s capital, Bamako (despite the members’ shared names, none are related). There the band became a huge attraction celebrated for their endurance. They’ve been known to play a four-hour set without a break; I’m sure they can handle the shorter performance they’ll give here on their first U.S. tour. —Peter Margasak

Price: $12-$17

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