“Without music, life would be a mistake.” – Friedrich Nietzche
Music leaves no doubt. It either hits me in the pit of stomach (conjuring sentiment, fear, outrage, or hope), or it doesn’t do a thing. I feel a sense of belonging when I connect with the music. Last night, I got to connect – with my husband, with performers and an audience, and with another part of the world.
Quite by happenstance, I came across a flyer for a show as I delivered my neighbor’s mail a couple months ago. The Krar Collective would not only be in my city but be in a beautiful intimate venue. Dubbed the “Ethiopian White Stripes” for their minimalist instrumentals, the band was sure to deliver; however, I didn’t really get a good grasp on their sound from their 2012 release “Ethiopia Super Krar”. Enter the venue without children and get a decent seat stage right. The opening act was Gabriel Teodros getting the crowd hyped with his Abyssinian-steeped lyrics. He urged the crowd to come up to the stage and dance; I had been expecting to sit all night so I got us up front and center. It set a jubilant tone for the headlining act.
I was no stranger to live music or concerts in my 20s, but since I gave birth to my children music has been savored in the comfort of my home. So it was a genuine treat to feel the vibrations straight from the amplified krar and the simple drum kit. Drummer Grum Begashaw drove a steady beat, and kept my attention focused on the stories told through traditional songs and dances by Krar maestro Temesegen Zeleke and guest singer Beli Nigussie. Nigussie’s dancing transported the audience from the southern Oromo region to the northern Tigray province, and she drove the audience to its feet with her more astounding dances (that are nothing short of acrobatic.) At some point, the Krar Collective let the audience the energy and run with it – celebrating a homeland left behind in body but not in spirit. Young children learning the dances on American soils mimicked Nigussie’s shakes, while African-born adults showed their well-honed dances in front of the stage.
It is nothing short of magic when a small group of people can stand in front of others and not only captivate them but motivate them. In the age of downloads and digitized rhythms, I had forgotten the sublime joy of a live show. The interactions. The movement. The creation of a pure expressive moment. I will keep a closer eye on concert listings from here on in.
How do you celebrate music in your life?
Altered photo from Flickr Creative Commons, “Womex2011 – Crawfurd2933” by Jacob Crawfurd