Sometimes it's best to just come out and say it fast and honestly: You missed a great party last night at the Echoplex. Well, not all of you. A few hundred souls showed up to see the Very Best, Rainbow Arabia and Bersa Discos bring the rhythm. The headliner, from London, consists of production duo Radioclit and singer Esau Mwamwaya, and are known Stateside (barely) due to the success of their free mixtape, Esau Mwamwaya & Radioclit Are The Very Best, which dropped online last last year to rave reviews. The mix is a beast. The team combines African and dance rhythms with surprising and not so surprising samples -- their riff on Vampire Weekend's "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" singlehandedly nudged us overcome our VW fears and give them a chance -- and is, we hereby submit, one of the best antidotes for LA traffic frustration.
There was a lot of stuff going on last night. Across town at the Hammer Foreign Born and Warpaint played to a packed garden; upstairs from the Echoplex at the Echo a four-band LA vs. SF battle was going on (LA won). The activity resulted in us missing Rainbow Arabia, whose rhythmic thrust is equal to The Very Best's.
Did we say 'rhythmic thrust'? Check the above photo. Now imagine lots of onstage thrusting. Imagine bounce, and vibe, and smiles and beats and screams and sirens. The night was a mess of danceable noise, with group's dancer/singer moving across the stage from start to finish; her moves were infectious (and totally hot), and propelled the crowd skyward. Radioclit knows how to do this, which is why M.I.A., Lily Allen, Justin Timberlake, Santigold, Britney Spears, TV On The Radio, David Banner and Buraka Som Sistema have all enlisted them as remixers.
The group played tunes both from the mixtape (which also features an M.I.A. cameo -- rumors that M.I.A. was in fact going to show up to make a cameo proved unfounded) and from their forthcoming debut, Warm Heart of Africa. The latter, which comes out in the fall, features appearances by M.I.A. and Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig. The first single, in fact, is a nice African-tinged track called "Warm Heart of Africa" featuring Koenig. But that kind of information didn't matter last night. It was Esau Mwamwaya's toasting, and Radioclit's wild-ass riddims, and that dancer's moves, that consumed headspaces for the hour-and-a-half.
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The group is in the middle of its first American tour, and seem to be having a blast. They played San Francisco last night, and are on their way to Chicago this weekend to gig the Pitchfork Festival, where hopefully they will teach the white people how to dance.
At one point during the show, a backing vocalist (sorry, we didn't get her name) who'd been sitting and singing all night long, propelled by the beatz, leaped to her feet and starting dancing like crazy, hopping on one leg and taking the music way way way higher. This lasted a few minutes, until she hobbled back to her chair, missed it, fell to the floor with a thud, laughed as people grew concerned, then popped up and kept singing. Sometimes a party does that: removes the bodily concerns and takes you into the mystic.