We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Like many a current Brooklyn ensemble, the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra takes a largely retro approach to music. But unlike many a current Brooklyn ensemble, this 17-member combo isn’t focused on reviving early-’80s punk-funk. Antibalas’ passion is for the ’70s and ’80s Nigerian grooves of Fela Kuti. Whereas Fela was innovative in combining highlife, jazz, and James Brown–style funk, Antibalas is just a group of smart record collectors who know that some songcraft is timeless. Not quite purists, the members of this multicultural unit speed up the tempos a bit; add dub, reggae, and salsa; sing in English and Spanish as well as Yoruba; and yet never lose the spirit of African music. As political as its musical idop was, the band’s latest effort, Who Is This America?, includes the catchy “Indictment,” which calls out the pres over a bleating horn section and earthy percussion that converge into beats that would wow any Rapture fan. The Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra plays at 9:30 p.m. on the Black Cat’s Mainstage, 1811 14th St. NW. $12. (202) 667-7960. (Steve Kiviat)