- Washington, DC
Underground System came bubbling up out of BKNY in early 2010. Originally steeped in influence and inspiration credited to Fela Kuti and the West African pioneered Afrobeat aesthetic, they have since carved out a niche that stands uniquely alone as their own. With several successful 12” single releases behind them via Ropeadope Records and Hell Yeah (Italy) and a noteworthy touring schedule to back it up (featured recent appearances at SummerStage NYC, Bowery Ballroom, Chicago World Music Festival, MASS MoCA, Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Natural History), this forward thinking and diverse group has laid all the groundwork and is ready to aim the big guns- bringing their uncompromising and original New York bred style to a soundsystem near you.
For Underground System, their recent single release “Bella Ciao” (Out February 2014 on Ropeadope Records) is the first taste of what’s to come. A menagerie of the best kind – part baile funk MCing, part italian folk song, part afrobeat anthem – starting somewhere modern, dark, and latenight club friendly, bringing it back just in time to a bouncy and deceptively light feel, the whole while grounded in the timeless sensibility and authority of a killer live band. Set to music by founder Peter Matson and frontwoman Domenica Fossati and given life by the bands collective work in arrangement, the ever-evolving personalities and influences on this record shine brighter than ever.
No one can deny the groups power and ability to package so many disparate influences with a unifying voice, and they owe a lot to the physical presence of what is one of the most diverse and dynamic crews of players to be assembled on the ground in NYC for a long time. A few phone calls and some chance meetings set the stage early on for where they are today: 8 core members deep, split equally between gender, representing too many cultural backgrounds to list, and boasting one of the most naturally enthralling live shows around. The energy the band exudes is confident, raw, and uninhibited, engaging and inviting every audience to lose themselves in the moment. The female front line is unique in its own rite and flips the script on the stereotypical male dominated afrobeat and big band culture in a perfectly nonchalant way. No marketing ploys or calculations here, the group organically evolved and ended up this way, a true reflection of the ideals it puts forward in every performance; the music created speaks for itself.
World Music/Contemporary | Electronica/Dance | Unclassifiable
Modern Afrobeat Powerhouse Underground System in DC on June 26th
A Black-Italian raised in Miami and Venezuela walks into a bar. She’s flanked by some instrument toting lady friends and a few dudes. There’s a Filipino, a Jewish/Brazilian, a Motswana, a Japanese man, and a couple white guys with guitars (of course).
If you’re waiting for the punch line, it’s better seen and heard than written. Underground System, the Brooklyn, NY based female fronted group of modern afrobeat deconstructionists is returning to the Southeast region of the US this June, following a 2014 run alongside the Easy Star All Stars. Bringing with them their uncompromising stage show alongside a heavy penchant for the deeper more cutting edge corners of the dance floor and downtown NY’s heyday, this run will see the group spreading their wings and ‘warming up’ ahead of a substantial push of content to come later this year.
Other than the extra-musical factors, their separation from the norm of typical large touring afro-friendly bands was cemented by the group over the past couple years with the release and subsequent proliferation via about a dozen official remixes of ‘Bella Ciao’ (Ropeadope Records) – a retro-futuristic dance floor ready interpretation of a Partisan anti-fascist Italian WWII anthem (Frontwoman Domenica Fossati’s father is off the boat Northern Italian, mom from Flatbush Brooklyn, and she grew up in Miami and Venezuela; you do the math). This single had an impressive little run – there were three separate 12” vinyl releases dedicated to it, remixes from electronic wunderkinds Archie Pelago, viral MC Kool A.D. (Das Racist), and the tune attained cult status on the dance floor all over the Mediterranean region when it was played in the Boiler Room on Ibiza by Leo Mas, the protagonist resident DJ of the Balearic revolution on the island during the infamous summer(s) of love.
Aside from the underground success of ‘Bella’, their live show over the past year has evolved and brings their newfound concept of sonic palette to a place as diverse as the players. The group at this stage is just as likely to tip their hats to the imitable South Bronx girl group ESG as they are Fela Kuti, and lately have been leaning on a raucous interpretation of British new wave cult classic band XTC to close their shows.
This upcoming tour, as the name implies, is indicative of even more progression within the group to come. Sitting on a wealth of brand new original material currently being produced in the studio, they will begin in June to spread their wings with it live. For this debut full length recording they have tapped resident indie rock legend and Brooklyn guru Tony Maimone (of Pere Ubu and They Might be Giants fame) as well as former DFA Studio manager Abe Seiferth to engineer, under the close watch and collaboration of producer/bandleader Peter Matson. The social and sonic thesis statement of the band is fully laid on the line for these upcoming records, and you can catch them this June for an early taste of things to come.
|Concert Start Time:||8:45 PM|
|Venue:||Capital Fringe Music Festival|
|Venue St. Address:||925 Rhode Island Ave|
|Venue City, State:||Washington, DC|
|Venue Link:||Click here|