SXSW: Ibeyi weaves musical magic

Twin sister duo Ibeyi stunned a capacity crowd at Central Presbyterian Church with a thoroughly enchanting set Friday night. The sisters Naomi and Lisa-Kainde Diaz live in Paris but the lineage of their sound is drawn both from their familial homeland Cuba and their Yoruban ancestral roots.  

Their stage set is simple Lisa plays keys and sings and Naomi alternates between using a drum pad and building rhythms from a simple wooden cajon (percussion box) and her own body with knee slaps, chest pats and finger  snaps. 

They mix futuristic electronics with primal ancient traditions raising their voices in tightly woven harmonies. It’s easy to call their sound ethereal or otherworldly but in doing so you might miss how deeply it’s rooted in energies drawn from the earth. 

Their demeanor was also incredibly down to earth and charming. They warmly interacted with the audience explaining Yoruban deities, enlisting assistance with soul claps and call and response sing alongs. It’s impossible to pull highlights because the whole performance, from the rendition of “River” that felt like a religious revival to the Jay Electronica cover, was pure magic. When it was all over the entire crowd was on their feet cheering and cheering then cheering some more.  

Author: Deborah Sengupta Stith

Deborah Sengupta Stith has been hanging out in dimly lit corners of the city soaking in the music scene for almost 20 years. Twitter: @deborific

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