The Very Best

ACL Live Shots

ACL Live Shots
Photo by John Anderson

The Very Best

Zilker Park, Oct. 9

It's hard to incite a sing-along when your songs are primarily in the Chichewa language of Malawi. The Very Best took a few shortcuts – sampling Vampire Weekend and singing over frequent collaborator M.I.A.'s ubiquitous "Paper Planes" riddim (itself a Clash snippet) – but managed to pull off the feat nonetheless. The gorgeous wail of Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya signaled the collaboration between the singer and his absent London-based producers, Radioclit. Instead, a pair of dancers helped Mwamwaya air out an otherwise empty Budweiser stage with mile-a-minute African dance moves as the vocalist, clad in a plaid paperboy hat and backed by a fill-in DJ, ran through the undeniable sounds of 2009 debut Warm Heart of Africa and the 2008 mixtape that put the band on the musical map. The Very Best lives up to its name with a fresh sound that melds South African kwaito – highlife and traditional Malawian music – with banging electronic beats that never flirt with the clichéd global chill of coffeehouses. They closed with a twist on the King of Pop's Free Willy anthem "Will You Be There."

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