Beat is back: Antibalas keeps bumping at Brooklyn Bowl

Brooklyn Paper
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This band wants you to get moving — but they are staying in place!

Brooklyn afrobeat band Antibalas has returned to its Williamsburg roots with a monthly residency at Brooklyn Bowl. The 12-piece outfit aims to spend the final three months of its performance series freeing crowds from their everyday worries and getting their feet moving, says the crew’s leader.

“We’re committed to the idea of making music you can lose yourself in and you can find yourself in,” said Martin Perna, who founded the band in Williamsburg in 1998 — though he notes that no one in the band can afford to live in the neighborhood anymore.

Since November, Antibalas — which is Spanish for “bulletproof” — has used its residency to perform with special guests, such as Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo. A typical gig includes original material from the band and its guest, improvised music, and covers, but each performance is unique, says Perna.

“Every artist has a different relationship with collaborat­ion,” he said. “Anybody that goes to the Brooklyn Bowl will get to see the beginning of this new musical friendship formed right before their eyes.”

The band is also using the shows to test out material from its new record, due out this summer. Antibalas’s music blends jazz, funk, and Nigerian rhythms, and usually carries themes of change and social justice, just like the band’s influences — African icon Fela Kuti and the legendary James Brown.

“There’s so much uncertainty and fear going on in the world so we want to replenish people’s spirits and give them the energy to go out and fight another day,” said Perna.

For this month’s show, on March 9, the band will welcome jazz and soul musician Brian Jackson, best known for his collaborations with Gil Scott-Heron in the 1970s. Perna said they have an extra-special show planned for their April edition, which falls on international stoner day (April 20), and he vows it will be the freakiest show yet.

Antibalas with Brian Jackson at Brooklyn Bowl [61 Wythe Ave. at N. 12th St. in Williamsburg,, (718) 963–3369]. March 9 at 8pm, $15.

Edited to correct a typo, and to preserve the health of valued commenter John Wasserman.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Pardon my asking, but would you please correct the 1st sentence of this article:

"This bands wants get you moving — but they are staying in place!"

It nearly gave me a seizure. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
John Wasserman
March 3, 2016, 2:32 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Thank you so much, if you don't mind my taking up space on this news paper.
June 20, 2016, 9:05 am

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