There was a very distinct moment at the Ibeyi show last Sunday night where the energy for the evening turned from simply good to really, really great. It happened during the duo's explosive self-titled album single "River", the song most well known by the world and easily the most far reaching in its execution. As Naomi Diaz punched out the infectious hip-hop rhythm on her table sampler, Lisa-Kaindé Diaz got up from her keyboard and turned to the crowd. The crowd moved to the beat in complete surrender - for that track, it's impossible not to. But more importantly, in that moment, it was clear that Ibeyi had gotten inside every head in the audience. Women over 40 danced side by side with the hipster couples in the know, while ahead of them, hip-hop fans all bounced with complete disregard, including two completely starstruck guys in their early 20s desperate to get even a smile from the twin French-Cuban musical goddesses on stage. Ibeyi controlled the cornucopia of fans flawlessly. Naomi's carnal energy, in perfect tandem with Lisa's haunting, powerful delivery - it's a combination that only happens with blood. Sunday night may have been the Diaz sisters' first Seattle outing, but they played it like a homecoming show, and there's no question that next time around, the venue size will double. Together with London folk singer Flo Morrissey, Ibeyi showcased their flawless debut LP in perfect form on stage and we can't wait to have them back.With Flo Morrissey as their opening support, Ibeyi weren't the only rising stars in the room soon to see bigger stages and followings worldwide. Morrissey's minimal folk music may seem fragile at first, but her strength as a songwriter gives the objects at hand a durability that isn't found for a lot of her competition. Take her newest single "Pages of Gold" for instance. The track is at its heart a folk pop track not altogether removed from the quieter efforts of Lana Del Rey. But Morrissey's pitch perfect vocals, brilliant melodies, and emotional execution take the formula to the next level. Here tonight, armed only with the acoustic guitar in her hands (amplified by a microphone set just below her already quiet vocals), Morrissey's plan of attack definitely wasn't a blitzkrieg. While the sound man asked the audience to try and remain quiet during her performance, only those with common decency got to hear Morrissey do her stuff. But for those that did, she performed wonders with no cover ups for blemishes to be found. While her traction in the States is still building, it's only a matter of time for Flo Morrissey. She has plenty to offer as a songwriter and a haunted muse that is quite irresistible once you are catch the bug.
Ibeyi's diverse, captivating debut LP dropped last month, and it's one of those records like early Dirty Projectors and the like where you kind of assume (mostly to protect your own sense of self-worth) that the incredible harmonies found herein are the result of production tricks. Watching Ibeyi perform their album live, this of course could not be further from the case. After all, the Diaz sisters have been honing their craft for two decades together, growing up singing with each other and playing music with their father, Angá Diaz, who performed for years with Buena Vista Social Club. But truly, there's no way to really pin down just how incredible Lisa and Naomi sound together. The two needed no stage help - the two shared vocals, while Lisa played keys and Naomi alternated between percussion setups. And song after song, the two performed flawlessly to the point of disbelief.
But the real proof that Ibeyi are here to stay came in the Diaz sisters' immaculate presence on stage. Lisa shared the stories that inspired every song, some of which are not easy stories to tell. "Yanira" pays tribute to the twins' older sister, who passed away in 2013. "Mama Says" documents the emotional turmoils that their mother dealt with after their father Angá passed away in 2006. But Lisa and Naomi share their story with an open handed grace. They want to bless their audiences with the lessons they've learned and the inner peace that their music has allowed them to reach. And truly, these are incredible gifts that they give us, and in such diverse formats. The two aren't naive to the phenomenal genre crossovers that they've amassed in their record. Hip-hop fans, Adele fans, R&B fans, soul fans, and world music fans alike, all different ages and backgrounds, all dancing in pristine joviality to the off-kilter beats and time signature gauntlets at hand here. For their encore, having already played the entirety of their record, the two returned to the stage and dropped the "River" drum once more to do a fully a cappella rendition of the track together with the audience. There's no doubt in my mind. Seattle will be coming back to the river time and time again as Ibeyi only grow further into their sound and vision.
It's important to note that The Replacements reunion could've been a disaster, and not the kind of shambolic splendor that the Minnesota legends used to thrive off of. When they were perpetually drunk underdogs tossing out half-assed covers and barely recognizable versions of their own material, th…
"An encore. How predictable," said a pre-recorded video of the cover model from Belle & Sebastian's latest album right before the Glaswegian pop stalwarts returned to the stage. And she was right. Contrary to their historical tradition, encores at modern concerts are almost always planned well …