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Review Wed Apr 01 2015

Ibeyi and Flo Morrissey Connected with Lincoln Hall

ibeyi2.jpgThere is something really special about Ibeyi. Twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz imbue an abundance of culture into their music, finding just the right words to sing in English, French, and Yoruban. Their self-titled debut is a gorgeous collection of songs that cling to a beautiful and devastating history, looking at personal and universal conditions without ever faltering to platitudes. This past weekend Lincoln Hall was treated to an incredible performance by Ibeyi and Flo Morrissey, a singer-songwriter from the UK. These three performers are wise beyond their years. That seems like an overused descriptor of young and talented artists, but I assure you it applies to these three musicians.

Flo Morrissey's set, while short, spotlighted her tremendous voice. She sounded humble and meek as she introduced her songs to the crowd, but as soon as they started her voice gained tremendous confidence and grace. Her singing style harkens back to older folk singers, reminding me of Vashati Bunyan at times.The lyrics have a very personal feeling to them, referencing love and betrayal with welcome introspection. It wasn't until she spoke of her cover of "Irish Blood, English Heart", joking about her heritage and lack of relation to the Moz, that she seemed completely at ease with the crowd.

flomorrisey.jpgThe second half of her set found Morrissey at a piano, showing the versatility of her voice as it gently moved around the new instrument. She seemed to get lost in her music, distilling all her energy into the songs. There was a passion in her performance that couldn't be ignored. Flo Morrissey closed out her time with "If You Can't Love This All Goes Away", a sad but relentlessly beautiful contemplation on absence of love that is filled tempered maturity.

Well before the show on Sunday, I knew that Chicago was aching to see Ibeyi. The French-Cuban twins were originally scheduled to play Schubas, but the demand relocated them to the larger Lincoln Hall. The venue filled up much quicker than the average concert, showing few late stragglers than I've ever seen. Ibeyi, who take their name from the Yoruban word for twins, were greeted with immense cheers that surely surprised Lisa and Naomi as their smiles beamed brighter that the stage lights around them.

Ibeyi's music develops a deep beauty with their subtle bordering on minimalist sounds. Small elements of jazz, hip hop, soul, and electronica are molded together with their Cuban and Yoruban cultures in ubiquitous harmony. It's a difficult balance that the sisters were able to capitalize on live. "Ghosts", which beckons to let go of the past and begin anew, is one the prime examples of the synthesization of styles. Lisa's soft keys twirled around the earthy percussion of Naomi's cajón, all the while being backed by subtle beats that filled out the room and captivated the crowd.

"River" took that attention from the audience and amplified it tenfold, putting the crowd at their most passionate height of the night. The song's popularity was undeniable as every other person whipped out their phones and began recording the song. It manages to be this huge song that had the crowd clapping and dancing to its melody, but remains sparse and restrained in its instrumentation. Even as Naomi switches between cajón and Batá drums and Lisa's voice flows with vast range, it instills a subtlety that can leave you speechless. Ibeyi's tender cover of Jay Electronics's "Better In Tune With The Infinite" was another song that highlighted the dissonance between the parts and their sum, resulting in a powerful rendition of a song looking and striving ahead.

ibeyi1.jpgWhen Ibeyi spoke to the crowd they showed their appreciation of the reception and imparted their culture with poise and conviction. While their Yoruban culture permeated through the night, it never felt like pandering or a heavy handed introduction to their beliefs and history. Instead it was a way of further connecting with audience. Before the pleading and lonesome "Oya", Naomi recalled the song's eponymous goddess' dancing on graves, imploring the action as a sign of goodness and protection. These explorations into the culture strengthened the songs that relied on the Yoruban language, elevating their message in prayer like fashion.

The crowd desperately wanted more for the sisters, shouting in Spanish "Otra! Otra!" untile they were appeased. Having played the majority of their repertoire, they left Lincoln Hall with a call and response reprise of "River". Throughout the night the audience dance, clapped and sang along to songs but it was with this departing song that everyone reached a lovely symmetry. Lisa and Naomi performed with the crowd in joyous turns, singing out to the people "I will come to your river" and were met with loud and accepting reply "Wash my soul", firmly establishing the connection everyone knew they had been feeling the whole night.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
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Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
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