Lucid Culture


Debo Band Rock Joe’s Pub, Ethiopian Style

Debo Band (pronounced “debbo”) first crossed our radar via powerhouse Balkan band Ansambl Mastika, who’d shared a bill with them at Don Pedro’s in Bushwick a few months back. In the far swankier yet confining digs of Joe’s Pub last night, it was incongruous watching the band lay down one irresistible groove after another while the practically sold-out house bounced in their seats. Finally, toward the end of the show, a guy sitting just to the right of the stage became the voice of reason, bounding up on his feet, the band’s guest vocalist joining him from about ten feet away onstage as there was no room to get past the tables. What a party this would have been if they’d cleared the floor for dancing.

In over an hour onstage, the eleven-piece band and their special guests from Ethiopia swung and bounced through one hypnotic, slowly crescendoing number after another. Their dapper, black-clad frontman smiled his way through several Amharic-language songs with an unexpectedly disquieting trill in his voice that reminded of John Lydon – did PiL listen to Ethiopian music? You never know. The band’s tuba player did three-on-four as the bassist played snaky triplets along with the rest of the band, which included two tenor saxes, two violins, accordion, Telecaster, drums and a percussionist wailing away on a set of three boomy tom-toms. At one point, one of the tenor players switched to baritone sax and despite the club’s characteristically dodgy sonics, it was low-register heaven.

Several of the songs ran circular, snaky themes that built slowly from hypnotic and swirling to bright crescendos, the saxes and violins hinting at how crazy they could get but never quite going there. One of the violin players had a wah-wah pedal, which he used to maximize the funk on the intoxicatingly catchy, intense minor-key vamp they closed the set with. The trio of guests up onstage with them (whom they’d met at a festival in Zanzibar) energized the crowd with their showy dance moves, one of the women delivering throaty, impassioned, wailing vocals when she wasn’t swaying and undulating, her several heavy, metal necklaces bouncing against her chest and adding yet another texture to the beat. In the middle, they brought it down a little with a reggae-tinged beat, adding some subtle dub echoes; at the end, the crowd screamed for an encore and this time the club gave them one, another bright, catchy, funky vamp that could have gone on three times as long as it did and everyone would have enjoyed it three times as much. If this show is any indication, their brand-new live ep must be amazing.

September 18, 2010 Posted by | funk music, jazz, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment