Nakhane Festival de Musique Emergente, Rouyn-Noranda QC, August 30

Nakhane Festival de Musique Emergente, Rouyn-Noranda QC, August 30
Photo: Matt Forsythe
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"Spiritual music needs more anal sex in it."
 
That sentence alone embodies Nakhane's MO. The South African pop iconoclast, who draws on figures ranging from Michael Jackson to Anohni, is giving pop and gospel music new life with his queer take on the genres' signifiers and sounds. Clad in an open blazer revealing a bondage harness, Nakhane is a striking performer making vital music, helping to enliven important conversations about the intersection of queerness and spirituality while also making engaging tunes.
 
Joined by guitarist/keyboardist Charlotte Hatherley and drummer Keir Adamson, the trio largely performed tracks from Nakhane's latest album, the recently released You Will Not Die. An early standout was "Presbyteria," which immediately endeared with its ticking cymbal beat and plaintive keyboard chords before abruptly breaking into a slow-burning pop jam. Another highlight was "Teen Prayer" (which elicited the opening quote), featuring no more than Nakhane's vocals and Hatherley's deliberate chords.
 
There are other artists out there working to bridge the gap between spirituality and queerness, but Nakhane's full-bodied embrace of love and sensuality makes him an important figure in these ongoing conversations.