Review: Antibalas–Live from the House of Soul

DVD Reviews

Antibalas–Live from the House of Soul

Director Phillip Di Fiore
MVD Entertainment Group
On DVD: 04.08

For this episode of Daptone Records Live from the House of Soul, the featured act is the afrobeat/funk/experimental group, Antibalas. This group was originally founded in December of 1997 and invokes nostalgia for the sounds of Fela Kuti. The video was recorded in the backyard of Daptone Records—the label famous for producing other contemporary soul acts like Sharon and The Dapkings, The Budos Band and Charles Bradley. This DVD celebrates the 2016 lineup with introductions from vocalist Amayo, Miles Arntzen (drums), Martin Perona (baritone sax) and Jordan Mclean (trumpet). Each member professes their deep appreciation for all things Kuti and soul, which is appropriate, as it gives the viewer a brief glimpse into the foundation of these talented musicians. They are the living and breathing embodiment of what they play, and it is clear after viewing this episode that everything they do channels the unique energy that comes from their funk/Afrobeat hybrid. Antibalas–Live from the House of Soul gives its listeners a real treat. The tracks featured are ‘Dirty Money,” “The Ratcatcher,” “Him Belly No Go Sweet” and “Sare Kon Kon.” Each track is jam-packed with energy that will get the viewer getting up and uncontrollably grooving  to the infectious sounds of Antibalas.

This episode is a great introduction into the style and talent of Antibalas. Much like an advertisement, the trick is that Live from the House of Soul sells you captivating music instead of fluff that one doesn’t need. That said, the only way to truly feel what Antibalas have to offer is by digging the live performance. Sure, Live from the House of Soul is a wonderful preview, but it should only be considered a means to an ends—the ends being checking out their live set. 

A word of warning for the unfamiliar is perhaps necessary: if you have not been exposed to Antibalas before this point, viewing this episode of Live from the House of Soul will no doubt put you under a funky spell. In other words, if you don’t become a lifelong fan after this, there may be something terribly wrong with you. In that rare case, my prescription is to play this video loud and get up onto your feet and feel the beat.

Antibalas—Live from the House of Soul is a wonderful document that highlights some of the best music of our time. Much like any visual recording though, it is very much a cocktease, and after watching this several times, I want more and more. I may have even considered booking a passage to Brooklyn to check these cats out, but after much internal struggle, I’ll hold myself together and patiently wait for Antibalas to grace Salt Lake City. That, and I’ll go looking for their records. I’m sure somewhere like Albatross Recordings has got to have them. So, yes, this soul-packed infomercial sold me on Antibalas. Congratulations, Daptone Records, you’ve done it again by introducing the world to yet another solid act that all should see and hear. Now, please excuse me as my wallet becomes lighter, my heart brighter and my stomach emptier as I spend my money on this excellent music. –Nick Kuzmack