ACL Live Shot: Antibalas
Zilker Park, Oct. 13
Reviewed by Thomas Fawcett, Fri., Oct. 19, 2012
In the midst of a steady rain, Antibalas founder and saxophonist Martin Perna summed things up perfectly: "This is the right place to be not only because of the tent, but because of the music." Over a decade and a half, Antibalas has mastered its craft, breathing new life into the Afrobeat genre they revere and turning out shows worthy of the Shrine in Lagos. What sometimes gets lost in the horn-driven dance grooves – particularly in a festival setting – is the message. As Fela Kuti once said, music is the weapon, so frontman Duke Amayo came prepared for battle, war paint and all. Just as the Brooklyn band has honed its chops, its decree has sharpened into a fierce indictment of corporate greed and capitalism. "Dirty Money" from this year's eponymous Daptone LP served as opening statement, while unrecorded "Gold Rush" and a cover of Bob Marley's "Rat Race" piled on evidence. "We're gonna end tonight as we began 15 years ago, with the music of Fela Anikulapo Kuti," Perna said before the 12-piece launched into "Gba Mi Leti Ki N'Dolowo (Slap Me Make I Get Money)," a frantic Fela rarity not found on any best-of compilation. And with that, court was adjourned.