All Night Long

South by Southwest Aftershots
Thomas Fawcett, March 22, 2012

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80

Copa, March 15

If you showed up at the scheduled 12:30am start time for Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, you would have waited an hour and 15 minutes to hear the youngest son and former band of late Nigerian superstar Fela Kuti. The lineup of African music ran behind schedule all night, but it was unclear what caused the inexcusably long set change after Baloji's firecracker set finished just before 1am. The capacity crowd packed the dance floor ass-to-elbow for the ensemble's only Festival performance, yet waited in increasingly agitated vain until the first note emanated from Kuti's saxophone at 1:45am, 15 minutes before the club's closing time. In all, the band – including musicians that had performed with Fela since the Sixties – squeezed in three songs in a hurried 30-minute set. When the massive 15-piece orchestra finally unleashed its swirling wall of sound, it hit with the ferocity of a hurricane. The Afrobeat scion tried to make up for the abbreviated set by lingering outside the club until every last fan had taken photos, but it's hard not to think about how special the set could have been. If it's possible for the band that played the most stirring music to deliver the Festival's most disappointing set that's what happened Thursday night at Copa.

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