Antibalas, Ogans, @ Governors Island, New York, 08/04/07

Is this some bucolic NYC campus?

What leafy grove of academe?

NO! It’s Governor’s Island, a former Coast Guard base on an island off the southern tip of Manhattan. Totally verboten and off-limits to the public for decades, this tantalizing piece of real estate was donated by the Feds to the City a coupla years ago.

For a brief window of time, before the developers make it some of the most expensive luxury housing ever (my bet) or it becomes a sanitized prefab park, NYCers can bike, hike, and explore this bizarre piece of 1950s manicured Twilight Zone bliss, 15 mins by ferry from Wall Street.

Now open to the public on Sats and Suns, it hosts concerts, walkers, and bikers – and not too many of ’em, either – who wander about the abandoned buildings

And see shows, like the Antibalas one this past Sat. Antibalas, a Bushwick, Brooklyn, collective dedicated to afrobeat, shouts its insurrectionist lyrics over layers of thunderous horns and brass, on top of Cuban rhythms, Yoruba drums, and more. Their name means “bullet-proof” in Spanish. A great band to play at this eeriely peaceful remnant of that least-military of military branches, the Coast Guard,

Brazillian band Ogans started the congas and opened up the show at 1pm,

getting the crowd going with some fairly standard but energetic Brazilian party music,

while the top-billed Antibalas, Bushwick, Brooklyn’s own long-running much-traveled afrobeat collective

played a joyful set to dedicated fans.

Highlights included an excellent “Beaten Metal” off the last album, as well as “I.C.E.”, among their older stuff.

Amayo, on drums and vocals

was as charismatic as ever, the super-political lyrics were as forthright as ever, and despite the shortness of the set (1 hour – better not miss that last 5pm ferry!) the show and the venue were well worth it.

nb: some photos courtesy This Week in New York,


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