Mdou Moctar River & Sky, Field ON, July 20

Mdou Moctar River & Sky, Field ON, July 20
Photo: Stephen McGill
The River & Sky Beach Stage offers audience and performers alike a unique experience to party together on an actual beach — there's no stage, only a gazebo where the artists play, inches away from the crowd.
Tuareg guitarist Mdou Moctar didn't so much bridge the gap as demolish it completely. Moctar, a breakout star from Niger who went viral via cell phone file-trading networks in West Africa, built on his burgeoning international acclaim with a hypnotic live show. Joined by a rhythm guitarist, bassist and a drummer, Moctar's infinite trove of winding guitar melodies drew the audience into a trance as the quartet doled out lengthy, electric Tuareg rock jams.
The set was impressive enough, but Moctar turned things up several notches during his audience-demanded encore, which took the form of a 20-minute, single-song jam, where a sweat-soaked Moctar spent the entire time in the crowd, effortlessly weaving melodies on his guitar to a crowd of adoring, dancing fans. The more time Moctar spent in the crowd, the more the audience reacted with religious fervour, which only encouraged him more. River & Sky is best at bringing people together, and Mdou Moctar's set stretched that MO to its most glorious conclusion.