Going to a concert can often seem like an event to dress up for, or be seen at, but sometimes the right show can just be that simple excuse you need to nod your head, shake your hips, and hear musicians play instruments live, loud and fast.
Jam bands are the perfect answer to this kind of equation, as there are often many instruments and beats to get you groovin’. Antibalas is one such band, boasting twelve members and all of the horns, drums, bass, guitar and funkiness you can handle. After they properly fired up the crowd, Medeski, Martin and Wood took the stage at the 9:30 Club.
Because there are no vocals in MMW’s jazz-influenced instrumental jams, the instruments took the forefront of the stage with John Medeski’s piano and organ on stage left, Billy Martin’s drums and percussion on stage right, and Chris Wood on stand-up bass and bass guitar in between.
Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, the band played a set of their most reqested tracks that were submitted and decided upon before the show; this is a rarity considering “we never take requests,” said Martin.
For over an hour, the group performed tracks from their extensive discography with their extensive collection of musical instruments. In additon to the organ and piano, Medeski played the Melodica, which is essentially a keytar with a hose and mouthpiece attached; Martin not only played the drums but added every type of percussion imaginable, from tamborines to cymbals and shakers.
And just in case that didn’t excite the audience enough, a third set soon followed with both bands together on-stage, culminating in a performance of fifteen musicians and what amounted to a full symphony of instruments. Antibalas has also performed on MMW’s albums in the past, and it showed that these musicians have a playful rhythm together that can only be acheived by working together frequently.
With ten-minute-long songs and call-and-response lyrics reaching out to the audience, it was clear that both bands and all audience members enjoyed hearing music the way it was best meant to be heard: live.