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Crossing Over

Never in my short life have I seen a group of hippies lose their shit so completely. When RIZWAN-MUAZZAM QUAWWALI hit the stage at Kuumbwa on Friday, all hell broke loose. Whether showering the performers with rose petals, falling to their knees or simply twirling ecstatically in the aisles, people were flipping out. One woman even walked on her knees up and down the aisle, her face upturned and eyes wide in her pilgrimage. A mild-mannered older gentleman in front of me seemed to be conventionally enjoying the show, but then about halfway through the set he began to violently shake his head back and forth and chant to himself. It was total pandemonium. Most people seemed truly entranced by this deeply devotional form of Pakistani vocal music, though I think chemical enhancement was involved for some members of the crowd. I love this town.


Someone forgot the show in show business. While SHANDRA LEER and U2 do a good job of keeping "spectacle" in the public's eye, the vast majority of concerts are rather drab affairs. (Face it--we live in a Clear Channel-presented era of pre-recorded presentations and shoegazing.) Were it not for a few brave Belgian expats, we might forget there's supposed to be a "show" in show business at all. The truth is, every time I get to see ZAP MAMA, I walk away completely surprised. It's not like the show is that much different, or that the arrangements have changed, but each time it's a whole new experience. MARIE DAULNE, much like MADONNA (although it's unlikely that Daulne will ever do a bad version of "American Pie"), is a work in progress, continually shifting through new styles and images.

Zap's latest concert was a far cry from their first American tour behind Adventures in Afropea. Singing mostly Central African a cappella offerings, the group used to be a darling of the world music mafia. Since then, Zap Mama have taken a dramatic swing toward the "neosoul" movement, adding myriad electronic effects into their percussive blend of vocalizations. Seeing Zap now has a whole lot more in common with seeing JILL SCOTT than anything coming out of KINSHASA round about now.

It's this refusal to quit moving, to deny categorization and to keep defying expectations that makes Zap Mama such an interesting band. Well, that and the fact that their music inspires people to shake their money makers fairly hard, even after intense sessions of BIKRAM YOGA (you know who you are).

It's hard to pick out specific highlights of a Zap show. The aura around the performance was so happy and joyous that any passing moments were just part of the overall lovage. I did love the fact that Marie sang a solo in tabla drum syllables. Wow.

At several points during the evening, one of the singers, CHANTAL, stepped away from the mic and picked up the acoustic bass. This woman has so much goddamn groove, it's unbelievable--especially during their version of "African Sunset." She's also able to create vocal lines that make "The Great Gig in the Sky" from Dark Side of the Moon sound pretty flat.

DIZZY, the guitar player, is also a joy to listen to, whether he's playing tasty little soul lines, throwing down SOUK from the CONGO or rocking out WINGER style. Also, despite the fact that his gross tonnage is double the combined weight of the rest of the group, he still gets down and shakes his considerable assets.

As a final note, I will give endless respect to anyone who has the gumption to do the worm in public. It's such a forgotten footnote to the breakdancing movement and it's a shame that it's still not practiced at high school dances. Marie showed total class and an utter lack of self-preservation when she threw down that move at the end of the show.


LIAM from SPLITTING SECONDS would like to remind everyone that THE BATTLE OF THE BANDS continues unabated down at the APTOS CLUB. Every weekend night the club is packed in tightly with local rock fans cheering on their favorites and probably drinking too much. The finals are a little over a month away, but upcoming shows promise to be entertaining, as the first round of brutal cuts is over and the best of the best are moving forward toward conquering the local scene.

Peter Koht

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From the May 4-11, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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