Antibalas & Zap Mama at the Byham Theater 2/4




Pittsburgh, PA— The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust presents two world music trailblazers in concert on Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 7:30pm at the Byham Theater, located at 101 Sixth Street, downtown Pittsburgh.

The concert will bring together the premier afrobeat band, Antibalas, in a collaborative tour with Zap Mama, Marie Daulne’s international polyphonic vocal group, that returns for their first US tour since 2009.

Antibalas, founded in 1998, evolved out of the same Brooklyn-based musical nucleus as Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, and emerged onto the world music scene around 2000. After years of heavy international touring the band rose to greater prominence in 2007 for its role in the musical direction of the Broadway musical FELA!

About the Artists

Antibalas (Spanish for “bulletproof”), is a Brooklyn, NY based big band inspired by the golden age of West African and Afro-Caribbean musical styles of the 1970s as well as the jazz and improvised music traditions of their native New York. Members of Antibalas are sought-after session and touring musicians, regularly recording and performing with a spectrum of artists including the Roots, TV on the Radio, Jovanotti, Arcade Fire, Allen Tousaint, David Byrne and St. Vincent, Angelique Kidjo, and Betty Lavette.

Zap Mama, is an all-female troupe of afropop vocalists based in Europe who first created a sensation in the US world music scene in 1991 with their critically-acclaimed self-titled release on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label. Marie Daulne, known worldwide as the creative force behind Zap Mama, redefines the word “vocalist” by creatively expressing sound and storytelling through tone and pure voice. Melding afropop and with American and European urban music using ethnic polyphonic vocal structures, Zap Mama is a world-music revue that can transport the listener around the globe in the course of a song.

Tickets and info:

The Budos Band at The Rex Theater, Nov. 8, 2014

Touring in support of their newest record, Burnt Offering, The Budos Band brought their own brand of distortion-laden Afro-soul to a packed Rex Theater on Saturday. The evening was to be a loud, boozy experience, melding stoned-out rock and roll with a bold brass element, and tying it all together with rhythmic bongos and psychedelic keys.

Opener Electric Citizen brought enormous energy to the beginning of the evening, delivering loud rock with a retro feel. Organ-driven melodies swirled around fuzzed-out guitar lines as singer Laura Dolan, shaking and dancing, busted out some impressive vocals. Members of The Budos Band were spotted rowdily singing along, appearing to be especially enthused audience members from their spot directly in front of the stage.

The members of The Budos Band filed onstage soon afterward, taking their places behind an array of instruments. They announced they were there for partying and mayhem, and launched into several songs from their newest album as well as a good helping of older material. It was clear that the band members were enjoying themselves, toasting stage-front audience members (and in at least one case, handing over a beer), encouraging the audience to make noise, and moving around the crowded stage to jam together. Or, in the case of the keyboardist, lugging a keyboard from its stand to the front of the stage in not one but two rockstar moments. The energy in the room was infectious, turning the front of the room into a constant flurry of motion as audience members danced along.

The band returned for an encore following their set proper, prompted by an expletive-riddled audience chant led by one of the band members. A cover of “Immigrant Song” caused the audience to lose its collective mind, and a teaser for “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by The Supremes acted as a surprising interlude. At the end of the encore, most of the band left the stage, knocking over a good amount of equipment, leaving their guitarist and bassist onstage to play them out in an evil-sounding wash of feedback. When they decided that they had made enough noise, they left the stage as well, the house lights coming up to reveal a mess of equipment and a thoroughly satisfied audience.

Post and photos by Gesina Phillips.

Interview: Minus the Bear

Gesina sat down with Minus the Bear’s vocalist Jake Snider before their sold-out show at Club Café with O’Brother back in October. Read the interview below for more about the band’s new record of B-sides and outtakes, Lost Loves, as well as some reissues, the current tour, and vinyl nerdiness.

Gesina: I know you’ve played Pittsburgh before, is there a particular reason you started the tour here?

Jake: I think the main reason we wanted to start the tour here is it’s always a good town to play. We needed to start on the East Coast and it just kind of made sense routing-wise. It was all very, very rationally done, you know? But yeah, it’s an essential stop for us, we’ve always loved playing Mr. Smalls or the various other stranger clubs we’ve played around Pittsburgh, like tonight.

G: So you’ve never played Club Café before?

J: Never been to Club Café before.

G: Are you playing smaller, more intimate venues on this tour?

J: Yeah, very much so. That’s kind of the whole vibe of the tour. It’s a shorter tour than we usually do, smaller venues, kind of geared more toward the fans who have been with us a long time. We’re playing our second EP, They Make Beer Commercials Like This, in its entirety. And so like that gets to the hardcore dudes, and ladies. But it’s mainly because we don’t have a full new release out right now, we just have the reissue of the Beer Commercials EP as well as our new record, Lost Loves, but that’s even B-side stuff.

G: I heard you’ve played some of the Lost Loves stuff live before?

J: Yeah.

G: The majority of it?

J: No. We’ve played, maybe, three of the songs off of it in the past.

G: Is there going to be some older stuff in the set?

J: Yeah, I mean, fairly career-spanning, I’d say. The best part about putting this set together for this tour was that we knew we had seven songs that we had to play from the Beer Commercials EP. The point is to play that in its entirety, so seven songs eats up a huge chunk of the choices that we have for the rest of the set, so there’s maybe eleven songs left, and we’re doing a couple from the Lost Loves record and then it’s just a mix after that.

G: Something for everybody.

J: Hope so.

G: You were looking at like seven years of material for Lost Loves is that right?

J: Yes, about six or seven years.

G: I’d imagine logistically that was a lot, but did you think it was a reflective process to go over so much time at once?

J: Yeah, it was a fun record to put together. With a record like that, where you’re putting out songs that didn’t quite make it to the past three records, you can go chronology, like “the first three songs are from the oldest” or whatever, but we just decided to sequence it as if it were a new record and I really think that helped and worked out. It was cool to hear the final product. It sounds like a record, so we’re stoked.

G: Was there a lot of material that didn’t make the cut?

J: You know what, there’s maybe three songs that are unreleased that we even have that have come to the point of even being called a song.

G: You’re reissuing Beer Commercials and Planet of Ice—are you vinyl guys?

J: I am an absolute vinyl guy. I rarely listen to anything when I’m home other than vinyl. I’m a nerd when it comes to vinyl. I’ve got six or seven record players, I spend way too much money on that stuff, so, yeah, big nerd.

G: Last question before I let you go: you guys have had a really cohesive lineup for a really long time, with only one change—are you guys excited to hit the road all together again? I know you tour a lot.

J: Yeah, we definitely are. Our new keyboard player has been in the band for eight years [laughs], so he’s been around for a long time. On this tour, Erin, our drummer, is sitting it out, he’s having some medical issues, so our drum tech Kiefer has stepped up and is hitting the drums for this tour.

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