Antibalas/ photo by Marina Abadjieff
It seemed right on 9/11 to attend a concert by a New York band. Especially one like Antibalas that is a melting pot of musicians and sounds. That encourages people to register to vote at their gigs. That promises that we’re on the crest of a new era of love and peace.
Yes, there were good vibes in the air at First Avenue on Tuesday as maybe 700 people partied to Antibalas, an 11-piece ensemble from Brooklyn that was the house band for the musical "Fela" on Broadway. The mix of funk, jazz and Afrobeat kept the Frist Ave dance floor percolating.
The two-hour performance drew heavily from material from the band’s self-titled fifth album, which was released last month by Daptone Records. “Dirty Money” was punctuated by staccato jabs of funk. “Him Belly No Go Sweet” found a festive groove.
Oldies provided the night’s highlights, namely an intense, jamming treatment of Bob Marley’s “Rat Race” and “Sanctuary,” a slower more cerebral jazzy piece that evoked Weather Report at times.
The high point, though, had to be the 20-minute encore rendition of “Sare Kon Kon” from “Antibalas.” It was ferociously funky, with plenty of solo space for jazzy tenor saxophonist Stuart D. Bogie, who was celebrating his birthday. Near the song’s end, he picked up trumpeter Jordan McLean (who is a good head taller) and gave him a pro-wrestling airplane spin. After putting down McLean, Bogie did the splits and then bounced into some break dancing. What a fun finish!