10. Songhoy Blues
Never mind the lack of space onstage at Utrecht’s Rasa venue. The hard-angled fusion of Tuareg desert rock, contemporary soul, and electric blues fusion from Mali-based deserters Songhoy Blues was plenty exhilarating. In fact, they manage to sound impressively at home, the entire set’s blistering bare-bones dance vibe exploding out of speakers in piercing high definition. The entire time I was standing in front, I was dancing next to Frederik who was blind (I didn’t know until his walking stick kept pounding the ground beneath us); it was a blessing to witness. With Songhoy’s drawing on sing-along chants, mid-tempo funk, and gyrating pyrotechnics from leader Aliou Touré jittering around the stage doing the moonwalk with hands raised up praising the musical gods, the energy was so palpable you could almost taste the crowd’s pounding, foot-stomping echoing up the floor to your teeth. Everyone was into it, and the fact that the Malian band had fled Islamic extremists who tried to ban all music in their hometown just made the inimitable life of their present performance all the more satisfying.