Brooklyn-based ensemble Antibalas has been living an enviable double life, for the past two years doing duty at the backing band for the hit musical Fela! (which earned 11 Tony nominations) and, not that rave reviews would go to their head, squeezing in some NYC club dates to keep their own beats fresh.
The Afrobeat maestros haven't released an album since 2007's Security, but they have a couple of releases on the way this summer -- the 12" single "Rat Race/Se Chiflo" (the A-side is a reworking of the Bob Marley classic) via the band's newly formed imprint Exactamundo, and the Aug. 17 re-release of its 2004 album Who Is This America?, which features contributions from, among others, TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe.
Their relative absence from West Coast environs has Afrobeat heads bobbing in anticipation over their current tour, which hits the Echoplex tonight along with the Sway Machinery, the cantorial music project of guitarist Jeremiah Lockwood of Balkan Beat Box.
Elsewhere: La Roux starts the dance party with a sold-out gig at Club Nokia. ... Ben Lee (with Brother and Ry Cuming) does a free show at the Santa Monica Pier. ... Fitz & the Tantrums and U.K. quartet the Heavy do a free show at the Hammer Museum. ... And KT Tunstall performs an early solo set at the Hotel Cafe.
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Also: Hawthorne Heights at the Troubadour; Teen Inc. at the Echo; Dusty Rhodes & the River Band at Spaceland; Benji Hughes at Largo; the Alex Band at the Roxy; Dwele at the Key Club; Frankel, Matt Ellis and Drew Stedman at the Redwood; Wakey!Wakey! and Olin and the Moon at the Bootleg Theater; Moses Campbell at the Smell; Killola and Queen Kwong at the Viper Room; and Terraplane Sun at the Silverlake Lounge.