Call it globetronica if you must, but bands with a bunch of different cultural influences who mix and mash them together over uptempo, ultra-dancey beats are anything but boring. Expanding on the accordions-in-a discotheque aesthetic commonly associated with Balkan Beat Box (and other similar European globetronica groups), French-Algerian outfit Watcha Clan absolutely wowed a Rickshaw Stop crowd last night. Though the house wasn't quite packed--apparently, Watcha's critic-salivating buzz hasn't quite penetrated the West Coast yet, despite BBC and NPR kudos--the crowd smushed to the front as lead singer Sista K and her fellow Watchas took the stage (following a DJ set by the Afrolicious dudes).
Watcha is well-represented musically, with a bassist, guitarist, and
keyboard/breakbeat player--who also picked up the accordion on occasion.
Tamborines, flutes, and qarqarbas (Moroccan handbells) also made appearances.
But it was really all about Sista K. Making her entrance with some
crazy dance moves and sporting a painted face, she was the undeniable
focal point all evening--singing in several different languages, kicking
up her legs, singing through a megaphone, and otherwise making the
audience feel completely at home with Watcha's Mediterranean mix of
drum-and-bass, reggae beats and gypsy grooves.
The overall effect was like "Fiddler On A Roof" goes to a rave--tradition meets P.L.U.R.--and the take-home message was one of peace through finding common ground on the dancefloor. After the third or fourth encore, Watcha waded into the crowd--making the audience feel like they were gathered around a Romany campfire--as Sista K once again hoisted her megaphone while the crowd happily clapped along. Betcha Watcha gets a much bigger turnout next time; no doubt, word of mouth on this show will travel like a caravan.