SXSW Music Day 2: Spoek Mathambo, Sauti Sol, Kali Mutsa

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After an early afternoon chat with Portuguese electro-kuduro group Buraka Som Sistema, I wandered downtown only to run into Andy and Christian of San Franpsycho. They've got a rack of clothes, a mobile screenprinting setup, and are representing SF style deep in the heart of Texas. As we commiserated about the craziness that is SXSW, SF local Danny Lannon of The Frail happened by.

Then it was off to catch a few songs by The White Eyes at the Taiwan music showcase. Frontwoman Gau Xiao-gao was festooned in a nude leotard with fabric streamers while she led her band through the punk and straight-ahead rock paces.

 

Later that eve it was off to Buca Lounge to see  Kali Mutsa, the alter-ego of Chilean actress Celine Reymond. As lazer lights danced around the room, it was hard to resist the hip-shaking gypsy sounds she and her band were pumping out. 

 

After that it was off to Spinlet All Africa party at Copa to check out South African electro-rapper Spoek Mathambo. The room was already crowded and people were grooving to the beats being played by Sierra Leonean dj Chief Boima. For some reason Spoek's show was being delayed and it was 45 minutes before there was any action on the stage. The crowd was antsy but finally a group took the stage and it was Kenya's Sauti Sol

 

The first thing to notice about Sauti Sol was their incredible clothing. They were wearing these beautifully tailored kanga-print jackets, some even had beaded epaulettes. En masse they kind of resembled an East African Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The second thing to notice was their great music. From the get go they navigated effortlessly from rocking out to singing soaring harmonies... all the while spontaneously breaking into lockstep dancing. The crowd ate it up.

 

From there I went to the Colombian showcase over at Speakeasy. Up by the stage I found myself next to one of the bandmates from M.A.K.U. Sound System who was eager to show me some dance moves. Also got the chance to chat with Kike, the drummer from Bomba Estereo. I first met Kike when he was playing with Sidestepper years ago and he mentioned that Richard Blair has recently gotten the group back together... so I made a note to check out what they're up to. 

 

Back at Copa, Kenya's Just a Band was in full swing. Playing music that seemed to range from hybridized watusi to 80s synth... the emphasis was on dancing. It was impossible not to.

 

And as my night wound down I caught South Africa's Spoek Mathambo. His brand of avant-garde electro-rap seems to be striking a note here at the festival. The common theme of my night was African bands willing to break boundaries.