Mdou Moctar
Credit: Photo by WH Moustapha, provided by Matador records

Mdou Moctar is often called the Hendrix of the desert. But bassist Mikey Coltun tells City Paper that, for the Agadez, Niger, bandleader, being considered the Eddie Van Halen of the desert would be a greater honor. On the band’s latest album, Afrique Victim, one can hear tinges of Van Halen’s flamboyant finger tapping on the fretboard method plus the pioneering desert blues sound of Ali Farka Touré. The locally raised Coltun, who produced the 2021 critic’s favorite, says the album also reflects what their tour van listens to—reggae by Black Uhuru and Black Flag’s aggressive punk guitar. The band make all those elements rock together in a manner that is neither contrived nor all over the map. Moctar sings lead in Tamasheq about inequality, love, and women’s rights over his buzzing guitar strings and fuzz pedals. The band support him with galloping drumbeats and propulsive bass rhythms. While the quartet emphasize fast, loud tunes with repeated sequences of chords, on some recorded cuts and in an NPR Tiny Desk session last year they display their equally mesmerizing but quieter Afro-folkie side with Moctar on acoustic guitar.  March 22 at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $25.

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