by Tom Nguyen
It has been an incredible April month for LA fans of music from Africa and its diaspora, as many new bands performed for the first time here, as well as returning favorites. After I saw Songhoy Blues (read my previous review), I was looking forward to seeing Mbongwana Star from the DRC, a new band with former members of Staff Benda Bilili.
A lot of Staff Benda Bilili fans like myself were saddened to hear of the band’s acrimonious breakup but according to a Guardian interview, Yakala “Coco” Ngambali and Nsituvuidi “Theo” Nzonza have not wasted any time dwelling on it, as they take their music to a whole other level with Mbongwana Star. The music is raucous, energetic and full of the infectious soukous dance rhythms Congolese music is known for. Add to that the hard-charging electric guitar riffs and drums, and you have a combustible, unstoppable dance party! Here’s a taste of what went down at The Roxy: