Reviewed by Martin de Leon II, Fri., Sept. 30, 2005
Zilker Park, Sept. 24
The shade of the Capital Metro stage was no match for the heat of Zap Mama. On ACL's second twilight, starting late, this Earth-mother-led Afropop quintet dropped postcolonial funk for a sweltering hour. Mysterious as they were in their black sunglasses, the three lead singers, fronted by Marie Daulne's silky vocals, came out like Charlie's Angels, pointing their fingers at the crowd. Rapturous, the almost-capacity audience wiggled, danced, and let their feet do the talking. "Utu Mama" was a soulful lesson in Afrobeat, slinky guitars coating the back section of turntables, percussion, drums, and bass. Like an African Destiny's Child meets Manu Chao, Zap Mama laced folk with modern R&B, mainly from 1999's brilliant A Ma Zone. Stuck in that awful ghetto of "world music," they nevertheless made proud use of global rhythms salsa, hip-hop, and various West African motifs letting it all loose in the name of freak-outs. "Fly Away" was a midtempo, sluggish R&B ditty that boasted a lovemaking bassline and turned rowdy through furious scratching and a head-banging dancehall riddim. Zap Mama is future music, forcing people to both dance and think.