Published Jun 18, 2015Ibeyi brought new meaning to the word harmony for their NXNE set. They operated on a level of symmetry that is entirely foreign to most individuals and could really only come from the symbiotic consciousness of twins. They flowed musically as one, while simultaneously recruiting everyone in the audience to join their musical family through crowd chants and claps. They also invited everyone into their world by frequently educating them on the origins of their music and Yoruba heritage, giving insight into a culture that most Torontonians are completely unaware of.
So we clapped, and we learned, but mostly we swooned at the undeniable charm of these two French-Cuban performers as they ran through some choice picks from their self-titled debut album. Both "Ghosts" and "Oya" soared majestically on the vocal unity of Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz, while the hip-hop percussion and poignant keys of "River" showed their flair for instrumentation.
Though clearly accomplished musicians, Ibeyi's performance was at its best when they were at their most minimal. The only percussion they needed for their beautiful rendition of "Mama Says" was Naomi's hands slapping her thighs and chest, interspersed with finger snaps, which was not only sonically pleasing but had more soul than a thousand seasoned drummers. Their encore too was bare, as they performed another version of "River," this time jettisoning the faulty electronics that stifled the earlier part of their show in favour of their voices alone, with some help from the ever-obliging crowd.
The effect — and the entire show — was captivating throughout.