Tonight was an afro-beat extravaganza at the Basement. For those who aren’t familiar with this type of music, as the name suggests, it borrows heavily from African music – with laid back, funky rhythms and syncopated, melodic guitar lines.
The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra are possibly the largest band to ever grace the small stage of the Basement. With about 16 members, they were an explosion of colour and energy. They combine influences of jazz and funk with African style rhythms and melodies to produce an original sound.
I particularly liked the matching outfits and dance moves of the three lovely (and very talented) female singers, and was pleasantly surprised that I recognised one track that they played (“Future Africa”). All in all it was an energetic and entertaining set that captivated the crowd from start to finish.
Although The Strides seem to share some of the influences of Public Opinion, they are a totally different beast all together (I use that as a term of endearment).
Drawing from dub, reggae and hip hop (as well as afro-beat), The Strides seem to have more of an international sound. And with four amazing vocalists, horn solos to die for and a rock solid rhythm section, they are one of the best bands I’ve seen in a long time.
What really made this set for me, were the different vocalists. Going from Ras Roni’s smooth Jamaican tones to the sultry voice of Michelle Martinez gave the set great variation. Not to mention the driving rhymes of the band’s MC, Geo; which seemed to cause a riot every time he opened his mouth.
Both the bands on the bill tonight were world class and if you ever get the chance to see either of them, I would highly recommend it!
Review by Jeremy Toulin