Afrobeat with Antibalas at the Gasparilla Music Festival

Antibalas at the Gasparilla Music Festival

For the 5th straight year in Tampa, Florida, the Gasparilla Music Festival has hosted a weekend of live music, food, and fun. Along the Hillsborough River at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, five stages were set up to house an eclectic collection of artists from almost every genre represented in music today. Festival goers were lined up to see Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Stephen Marley, Lucero, Antibalas, MS MR, and many more. Among the headliners there was a healthy amount of local bands from around the Tampa Bay area.  To say the least I am excited about some of the local music that is currently out there. Over the next few days we’ll take a look at some of the artists that graced the stages at the Gasparilla Music Festival on Saturday, March 12th. First up, Antibalas.

Afrobeat: A combination of traditional Nigerian music, jazz, highlife, funk, and chanted vocals, fused with percussion and vocal styles, popularized in Africa in the 1970’s.

Watching Antibalas set up on stage was an intriguing sight. The musicians all assembled, resembled the population of a small country rather than a band, due to the number of people. Instruments ranged from guitars and trumpets to conga drums and a shakere. This was my first time seeing Antibalas in person, so I was looking forward to their live performance as a group and especially the percussionist and lead vocalist, Amayo. His dynamic stage presence and soulful persona somehow makes you forget about the rest of the band which is really, really hard to do; because they are unbelievably good. Numerous times, he walked out on to the center stage area that protruded into the crowd, isolated by a spotlight. It was like watching a fireworks being set off. At times, it looked as if he was putting the crowd under a spell, a funky, groovy afrobeat spell. All this intense musical electricity arcing in to the night, Antibalas acted as a conductor, transferring the power of music to the masses. This is definitely a band to go see up close and personal, and experience an atmosphere like no other.

Antibalas on Youtube

If you missed Antibalas at the Gasparilla Music Festival, or if you want to relive the experience, take a listen and watch them live from the House of Soul.

Chris Rodriguez Written by: