June 25, 2009

Between Randall Roberts’ West Coast Sound post and Reed Johnson’s Pop and Hiss post, you’ll find plenty of specifics, plus pictures. Besides, if you missed Femi Kuti, Santogold, and Saadiq last Sunday, you either live outside Southern California or you’re a huge fan of Million Dollar Password. In other news, Regis Philbin is alive? Who knew.

I’d rather pontificate on the notion of shadows, and how Femi Kuti escaped them on a honey-baked and halcyon summer night at the Bowl. I’d never listened to much Femi before Sunday, thanks to the same logic that’s led me to avoid Ziggy Marley like I avoid cess (unless it’s inside a blunt passed to me by 40-year old women at a DJ Quik concert–which by the way, thanks ladies.)

The idea of Fela’s son always struck me as decaf for the Starbucks set, ideal for madeleine connoisseurs who consume “world music” and still contribute to Move On. org. Which by the way, is also apparently still alive. Who knew? After all, Seun snatched Egypt ’80, so why bother with the other progeny when the progenitor was still accessible via an abyssal catalogue that I still haven’t fully ransacked.

Femi Kuti: Prior to Testing Positive for a Women’s Fertility Drug femi_kuti_2.jpg

The obvious answer was to see the power of genetics at play. As both Thomas and Teen Wolf wrongly taught us, things can skip a generation and you can never go home again. But Femi still rules The Shrine in Lagos, and inherited enough of the right chromosones to play until the Nigerian government comes for his defenestration. All he needs at this point is Maxwell Perkins or Stiles selling merch.

From cradle to grave, he’ll be dogged by comparisons to his dad, which is what happens when pops is the musical manifestation of God. More often, you give up the ghost like MJ’s kid, rather than sustaining a 20-year career. 42 years old and in his prime, Femi’s finally given up the Mos Def and Common-aided crossover aspirations, and figured out that accepting that you are your father’s son doesn’t have to be a bad thing–unless you’re Spencer Krug or Mark Madoff.

14 people on-stage, imported from Lagos, celebrated with the hallelujah and horns of classic highlife. Three dancers, rumored to be Femi’s wives shook like a Wreckx-n-Effect video, with Femi replacing the Lafayette Afro Rock Band sax line with his own eclat. He ran through most of last year’s excellent Day by Day, a slept-on record skipped over in favor of the ersatz afro-beat that rules the Last FM world.

Maybe he’ll never escape the awesome adumbration cast by his father, but Femi Kuti not only continues the tradition, but expands upon it.  The only thing missing from a practically perfect night was Femi’s own 12-year old son, an aspiring saxophonist in his own right. Then again, maybe it was all for the best: even shadows have shadows.

MP3: Femi Kuti-“You Better Ask Yourself”
MP3: Femi Kuti-“Eh Oh”

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