This past Friday, Metro Chicago opened its doors to French-Cuban twin sister duo Ibeyi as part of Red Bull Sound Select 30 Days in Chicago. Born Naomi and Lisa-Kainde Díaz, the sisters have music running through their blood. Their father was the famous Cuban percussionist Miguel “Angá” Díaz who was also a member of the Cuban music ensemble Buena Vista Social Club.
It had been sometime since I had last visited the iconic music venue located off of Chicago’s bustling Clark Street, and it’s actually the venue where I saw one of the first concerts I distinctly remember back in the Fall of 2009. We all have that one concert that marks the moment when music takes on another meaning.
Ibeyi first caught my ear a couple of years ago with their 2015 track ‘River.’ The duo’s name comes from Yoruba, a language spoken in West Africa, meaning “twins.” As they took the stage opening with ‘I Carried This For Years’ (2017, XL Recordings), each twin was on opposite end facing each other. Their wardrobe was simple yet fashionable. Lisa-Kaindé’s afro loomed into view sporting a blue one-piece jumpsuit while her sister Naomi’s contrasted attire with a red one-piece jumpsuit.
Come to your river
(Wash my soul)
I will come to your river
(Wash my soul)
Throughout the night they jumped from side-to-side and instrument to instrument whether it was playing the keyboard or the cajón the talented twins filled the room with their powerful energy and vocals. Playing tracks from their sophomore album Ash (2017), Ibeyi also featured tracks from their self-titled album Ibeyi and the crowd eagerly chiming in throughout songs such as ‘Transmission/Michaelion’ and ‘Deathless.’
‘Transmission’ is the heart of the album. For me, it’s one of the most important songs on the album. It’s about everything we believe in. […] Not only saying how you feel, but looking at how people are feeling around you and trying to understand them; finding what links us more than what divides us. —Lisa-Kaindé Diaz
Ibeyi are a powerful duo that through their music rise up to change and promote female empowerment. Hearing ‘No Man Is Big Enough For My Arms’ (2017, XL Recordings) live sent chills through my body. The track opens with a snippet of a speech Michelle Obama made in New Hampshire, “The measure of any society is how it treats its women and girls.” Additional parts of the former First Lady’s speech are included throughout the song while smooth jazz infused beats play in the background. Their music breathes life into people, spaces and places that face oppression and discrimination.
Their performance is one among many planned for the month of November in Chicago. Be sure to check out the additional shows at Metro Chicago including:
AMINÉ / PELL / A2 (November 18)
JUNGLE / NOMBE / DRAMA (November 27)