Zap Mama and Antibalas rocked the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts Thursday, February 12th, playing a high energy set of songs.

The melding of the two groups brings together the polyphony and vocal agility of Zap Mama and the Afrobeat sound of Antibalas. Up onstage, the strings, the winds and the rhythm section of Antibalas grooved in perfect synchronism with the powerhouse vocals of Zap Mama.

As the house lights went down, the four women of Zap Mama filtered onstage, weaving among the many microphone stands that would welcome Antibalas. The sheer vocal ranges coupled with the expressiveness and emotion, and backed by the beatboxing of Manou Gallo started a concert that would run like a freight train without stopping for the next two hours.

Singers blended their voices to fill the theater with their husky tones, and the characteristic polyphony of the group came to light.  Different melodies snaked through the song, and the atmosphere mounted as Antibalas joined Zap Mama. The groove of the Brooklyn based band fit perfectly into the vocals.

As the groove infected the audience, there was no holding back the tide of people who raced to the front to dance to the music. Highlights included trombonist Raymond Mason’s astounding solo, as he stepped from the winds line to blow over the audience with his unamplified power.  Manou Gallo’s bass solo was also a showstopper, as she stepped from the back to completely rock out with an unreal speed and dexterity on the bass. Antibalas frontman Amayo’s smooth vocals and stage presence worked effortlessly with Zap Mama, and everyone onstage was clearly having fun. Zap Mama was completely aware of her star power, and invited the audience to enjoy the same pleasures she was drawing from the performance by encouraging audience participation in dancing and singing along.

The music coursed through the crowd, and the upbeat groove was just was was needed to buoy spirits after the string of storms that have hit the region.

photo credit: via