Etran de L’Aïr Fill Music Hall with Desert Blues and Brotherly Love
June 30, 2023
Etran de L’Aïr – Music Hall of Williamsburg – June 29, 2023
“We are brothers!” exclaimed the members of Etran de L’Aïr from the Music Hall of Williamsburg stage on Thursday night. Yes, it is a family band made up of siblings and cousins from the city of Agadez in Niger. But from the opening notes of their set, that “we” seemed to extend to the crowded dance floor, out onto the street and beyond. We are brothers (and sisters) and it’s music like the desert blues of bands like Etran de L’Aïr that transports the vastly global to the intimately local, bringing together people in the common goal of happiness and having a good time.
A good time was hard to miss on Thursday night, the audience at high energy from the noodling tuning as the band took the stage dressed in full traditional garb. Two electric guitars, bass and drums delivered Afro-ambient drones of infinitely repeated riffs, slight variations of tempo changes, extra guitar flourishes and hyped-up drum fills bringing worldly flavor. Whatever you needed when you walked into Music Hall, the music seemed to provide, whether it be danceable party grooves, uplifting energy or brain-tease intricacy.
Occasionally the grooves made way for full psychedelic hypnosis, overlapping guitars and chaotic rhythms bringing the music to increasingly interesting places. Barely a measure or two would go by without the drummer heightening things with a little extra oomph, a constant morphine drip of funk to ease the pain. Songs would start bluesy or dark or quiet, but almost always got to that similar, head-spinning place, the energy in the room never wavering, the dancing never stopping. The show represented only the second time Etran de L’Aïr have been Stateside and was the start of a three-month tour of the U.S. and Europe, more cities awaiting good times with their brothers from Niger. —A. Stein | @Neddyo
Photo courtesy of Aaron Stein