Eclectic Vibes from Ibeyi

Photo Credit: Angelica Melendez

I’m on the way to Terminal West on a Wednesday, not quite knowing what to expect. This is one of my favorite venues in the city, not only because of its incredible location, but because of the many eclectic experiences that can be had in its intimate space.  CLAVVS, a band out of East Atlanta, starts the show off just after 8pm. Beat-maker and instrumentalist Graham Marsh,  along with singer Amber Renee, give a rousing performance, containing passionate vocals and subtle electric guitar over killer beats that reminds me very much of groups like Phantogram. Marsh’s numerous Grammy award-winning skills definitely shine through, and Amber is a beast of a performer.

After their performance, I’m left waiting, giving me a chance to notice the room around me. Batá drums, an instrument with origins from Nigeria and then later Cuba, rest on stage. A cajón, originally Peruvian, but also implemented in flamenco and jazz among other styles of music, accompanies the electric keyboard onstage. It is a fairly stripped down setup, yet I have a feeling the sounds to come will be huge.

Ibeyi, the French-Cuban duo, begin their set at 9 p.m. sharp with a captivating a cappella piece. I notice how unbelievably well their voices blend. This is true not only because they are siblings, but even more so because they are twin sisters. Exquisite two-part harmony rings out around the room in the Nigerian language, Yoruba, while the now hushed crowd looks on in astonishment. Next, the resounding bass and punchy snare of the mic’d cajón, which are also producing very cool triggered effects, starts the audience swaying to the down-tempo, soulful beat.

“On My Way” changes the feel to a more western pop orientation that later transitions to a hip hop influenced sound. The diverse and joyous crowd moves and gyrates to the beautiful music. Things slow down a bit with a ballad-like tune, including breathy jazz vocals, lending credence to just how musically dexterous the gorgeous twosome really are. Accompanying this swirling mix of genre and style are some of the most mesmerizing projected visuals I have ever seen, painting a picture both digital and warm, enveloping the sounds and inspiring even more emotion inside the onlookers.

The last song begins as another a cappella duet, much like the opener, but with a more jovial, less serious vibe. This is partly due to some technical difficulties that occurred throughout the concert. However, these hiccups by no means detract from the experience; instead, they make for an even happier, celebratory one. An encore of Ibeyi’s most well know song, “River,” puts a lovely cap on one of the most interesting and inspiring musical experiences to be found in Atlanta.

James McDaniel

A man of many talents, James not only writes about music, he also composes, arranges, teaches, and plays. As an Atlanta area high school band director, he stays busy developing his program and writing and arranging for percussion at his place of work aw well as a number of other Atlanta area schools. He is also a gigging percussionist, playing live and doing studio work for InCrowd of Atlanta. Music is more than a passion for james. It is his lifestyle.