Palenke - Not actually from last night.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Better Than: Any of my wife's early-morning suggestions to fill this line.
The Review: You might be wondering if my covering two shows in one review is kosher. And strictly speaking, I can't say for sure. But as I sit here bleary-eyed at 8am mainlining my morning coffee and snorting rail after rail of the leftover grounds, I dare you to challenge me. Besides, it makes perfect sense, in my mind, to place the two shows side by side. Consider it a deconstruction of "folkloric deconstruction".
On paper, Afro Kumbe and Palenke Soultribe seem rather comparable, and perhaps they are. Both groups are comprised of Colombians who came up with an inventive and harmonious way to borrow from their native country's folklore, twisting it and reshaping it, and melding it with modern flair. Both lean heavily on electronica while delving into sounds like cumbia, champeta, currulao, and others you won't recognize unless you're from Colombia and have a solid working knowledge of your country's music. But, that isn't to say you'll see the same thing from both camps in live performance. And so was born the idea for the audiophilic experiment (yes, that's a thing...I think) just slightly off the beaten path for WMC activity, which I conducted last night. That and the fact that I had planned all week, until Tuesday, to see one show Wednesday and the other Thursday, only to learn they were the same night.
I arrived at Transit Lounge for their Winter Music Festival Party circa 11pm, and was surprised to find the herd at the favorite local watering hole thin. "Guess the ravers don't make it this far," I commented. It's a shame, because as this vid just below will attest, Afro Kumbe has got some serious throw down. It's not traditional electronica, and it doesn't pretend to be. The live instrumentation is very much a part. The Locos Por Juana side project was born of a couple of the members' desire to put together a sort of DJ set, and try their hand at instruments and sounds you don't normally see them at in LPJ. And Afro Kumbe was made to make people move. This set deserved a sea of churning limbs, not scattered swaying beer-swillers. But this project will continue to gather steam, and hopefully their monthly apparition will soon draw a cult following.
Note Itagui rocking the congas as he issues chants, and guitarist Mark Kondrat and drummer Javier "Lakambre" Delgado looking like mad scientists at the helm of sequencers and software.
From there it was a very hurried race across Midtown to Bardot to catch Palenke Soultribe's WMC week installment of the Jack Daniels Studio series. Don't ask me how, but somehow we made it just in time to catch them right after they started. Bardot was slammed (what else is new?), wall to wall bodies in the space, and people seriously digging the LA-based PST's aptly-dubbed folkloric deconstruction. Again, the addition of live instrumentation plays a crucial role in endowing the electro vibe with an organic element. You'll notice from this brief clip below that theirs is a completely different direction, far more techno-based than Afro Kumbe, whose Colombian underpinnings are more readily apparent. Which is not to say Palenke's are not. Just that they employ more of the techno beat. One highlight was a mix incorporating that nowadays-not-so-PC Wilfredo Vargas classic, "Mami, Que Sera Lo Que Quiere el Negro."
All in all, call it a Tale of Two Colombian Groups, similar in conception, but different in the resulting sound. Both put on solid performances, and provided a welcome departure from the standard electronica fare of WMC.
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Personal Bias: I really dig both groups a lot, and bands retooling afro and indigenous sounds with modern styles is a current obsession.
Random Detail: Some guy had shades that looked like they were made of Xmas lights at Bardot. At BARDOT!
By the Way: $10 for a pack of cigs is a little extreme, Bardot. Lesson learned. Always bring a backup pack.