Nat Geo Showcase
Palenke Soultribe, Brownout, Grupo Fantasma, Balkan Beat Box, Hindi Zahra, and Nneka
Reviewed by Thomas Fawcett, Fri., March 23, 2012
Nat Geo ShowcaseThe Stage on Sixth, March 17
An impressive roster of acts from around the world provided nonstop global grooves thanks to separate indoor and outdoor stages and overlapping sets. Los Angeles via Colombia quartet Palenke Soultribe kick-started the night with glitchy electro-cumbia and a cheeky cover of "Funky Town" before local Latin funk mob Brownout previewed slow jam "I Won't Lie" and the title track from next month's release of Oozy. When bassist Greg Gonzalez playfully plucked the first few notes of Wu-Tang's "Clan in the Front," it was clear the band was looking forward to its late-night gig backing up GZA. By the time Brownout alter ego Grupo Fantasma began blaring hard salsa, it was almost impossible to get within sight of the outside stage if hopping back and forth between bands. The frenetic hip-hop and gypsy funk of Balkan Beat Box proved the perfect antidote to the intriguing but sleepy set by French singer Hindi Zahra. Nigeria's Nneka, whose rootsy blend of reggae and soul recalls the acoustic work of Lauryn Hill, is an arresting talent, but the room felt flat.