Concert Review: Afrobeta, The State Of, and Sno Cones at Propaganda, July 17

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Tom Wilco
Nabedi Osorio (left) and Steph Taylor of The State Of
Sno Cones, The State Of, Afrobeta
Friday, July 17, 2009
Propaganda, Lake Worth

Better Than: The metal show I saw later Saturday night at the Poorhouse.

The Review:

XX-chromosomes and some serious musical variety ruled the night Friday at Lake Worth's Propaganda. From the new band Sno Cones to The State Of to closing act Afrobeta, it would have been hard to find a more rockin' and more eclectic local lineup anywhere in South Florida.

Sno Cones: The sound of this first group taps the raw rock vein of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but not just because the band covered "Tick" and "Date with the Night" - and happened to cover them well. The amazing stage presence and vocal range of the lead singer, coupled with the tight rock produced by the band garnered a lot of well-deserved applause from an enthusiastic crowd. This singer is as comfortable shrieking a la Karen O as she is carrying a note over melody-driven indie rock and roll. And despite it being the band's first performance, the group already displays the kind of natural musical compatibility that even more seasoned bands can't seem to tackle.

The State Of: One of my favorite local groups, the bespectacled duo The State Of, made up of vocalist/pianist Steph Taylor and vocalist/drummer Nabedi Osorio, mixes tough and breathy vocals with potent piano work and intricate drumming that sometimes evokes a less hectic, though no less quick, drum-and-bass approach to percussion. They're fun, but serious; dark, but not gloomy. Friday night, their song "Helmet and Sword" started out like a much better "Stairway to Heaven," minimalistic and intimate, and then ending with atmospheric vocals floating above a rockin' and rollin' piano. They applied a bit of their signature sound to a cover of the Cure's "Just Like Heaven," changing the tune just enough to avoid sounding stale but still managing to retain the original's appeal. They stayed truer to the original while covering The Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian," but it was no less enjoyable. The duo's influences range from Fiona Apple and Tori Amos to Portishead and Radiohead, but The State Of doesn't just regurgitate its predecessors. Taylor and Osorio are highly innovative, creating robust musical constructions that fall beyond the sum of their influences.

Afrobeta: Winners of New Times Groove On Battle of the Bands, this duo, made up of Cuci Amador and Tony Smurphio, is a melting pot of sound. A careful mash-up of latin, house, funk, soul, and electro, Afrobeta brings the dance-party up a notch, providing the kind of energy you feel at dance establishments across the pond. Sometimes they bring it down to ballad-y, melodic numbers, but where they excel most is in danceable, crunchy, Tron laser-gun-infused house. Unfortunately, what makes Propaganda so intimate and appealing is also what makes it not a great venue for such a group. While I couldn't ask for a better setting to see The State Of and Sno Cones, Afrobeta begs for a hands-in-the-air crowd bouncing on a dancefloor and under a disco-ball as big as its sound. Seeing Amador's on-stage antics not fully reciprocated is a sin.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: Like I've alluded to before on Crossfade, I am a serious appreciator of estrogen-tinged music.

Random Detail: In addition to Friday night's show being the Sno Cones' first, Propaganda promoter Steve Rullman told me they didn't even have a name when they were booked. Rullman suggested Sno Cones. Supposedly the drummer digs it. We'll see if it sticks.

By The Way: The State Of will have a CD release party some time in September.


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