Last night at Buddhist House, Afrobeat ensemble Zongo Junction and Wesleyan band Men with Bad Manners created one of the most intimate, feel-good concert environments that Wesleyan has seen all year. MWBM kicked off the show with their deep, mellow reggae grooves. The group’s lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, Immanuel Lokwei ’12, brought a roots-reggae vibe to the show with his passionate and vibrant voice. He animated the crowd with wild jumping and dread-lock swinging; his energetic movements and bright vocals seemed to emulate the remarkable stage presence of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, two legends in the world of Reggae. Julian Gal ’14 carried the rhythm sections with his traditional dub-style but distinctively complex bass lines. The horn section consisted of Andrew Pfeiffer ’13 on trombone, Noah Rush ’14 on trumpet, and Jeremy Keim-Shenk ’12. These guys and their bright brass sounds brought rays of [musical] sunshine into the room and embodied the band’s warm, Jamaican sound. Check out MWBM’s newest album, Seed Sankara, here.
Zongo Junction certainly upped the ante when they stepped on stage. Their jazzy rhythms enlivened the crowd and fueled the skankin‘, jumping, and dancing. Their bright, energetic jams featured a distinctive blend of jazz, funk, and soul music, with palpable West African influences in the rhythmic patterns. These rhythms drew upon the heavy syncopation and polyrhythms inherent in West African drumming (for those of you in Abraham Adzenyah’s class, you know what I mean). The combination of all of these musical styles results in the unique genre of Afrobeat. The Afrobeat style, or more specifically, their unique take on the genre, created a Big Band feel. The tight rhythm section and the five-person horn section also contributed to this Big Band vibe. What was most impressive about Zongo Junction though, was their consistent expertise and tightness. Despite the complexity of their songs and the absurd length of their set, I cannot recall a moment in which they messed up. If you want to hear more of Zongo Junction’s music, click here.
All of this—the infectious, warm reggae of MWBM, and the tight, jazzy jams of Zongo Junction—made Buho’s Halloween show a night to remember. Check out the photographic evidence below.