Much ink has been spilled in the City Paper about the trans-oceanic stylings of Extra Golden—-as the description goes, the six-piece band combines Kenyan benga music with American rock. I’m relatively new to these guys, and went into last night’s show at the Black Cat backstage informed only by a passing exposure to their 2007 release, Hera Ma Nono. That album struck me as a surprisingly subtle meshing of two styles of music, and to my uneducated ear it sounded like there was a lot more benga than indie-rock going on.
Live, though, the fusionish nature of the music become apparent very quickly. The benga influence is indeed obvious, with the group’s three guitarists playing catchy melodies in syncopated, danceable rhythms. But the rock came through aggressively as well, with fuzzed-out guitar solos (and even a heavy dose of wah-wah in the latter half of “Obama”) making numerous appearances. Maybe this just betrays my cultural bias, but these moments when the rock influences were clearest, such as strident distorted guitar lines dissolving elegantly back into staccato benga melodies, were easily my favorite parts of the show.
The Black Cat backstage is an admittedly small space, but it was pretty well filled for this show, and it was filled with a diverse array of listeners who all had one thing in common: none of them were standing still. By that fact alone, this was a successful show, and the musical content matched the energy level. Not a bad way to chase off the Monday blues.
More photos from the show here at Flickr.