While I didn't make it out to many shows in 2016, mysterious special guest star The Paper sure did. I'm proud to highlight the ten shows of 2016 that made his list of favorite shows.
"Girls to the front. Girls to the front."
I am standing against the wall in pitch darkness as Camae waits for girls to move up. Multiple rings quickly form around her like planets irresistible to gravitational pull. This is apt because Camae, the mighty force performing as Moor Mother, is about to unleash more energy than the sun. Ferocious sets are not unique except the source of her power
derives from indignation.
I first saw her at the New Alternative Music Festival where she opened her set dropping bombs on race relations and police brutality. It was the most raw, real, riveting truth anyone has ever uttered on stage. The imprint I got from the one-two punch of "capitalistic timezones" is still fresh. Which is why I find myself getting squished from all sides here in Philly merely a week later. There is value in reliving that truth. And this time, Camae is joined by NAH on drums.
The rings earlier have turned into an unrelenting mob that is
deafening even with ear plugs. But I can still make out the furious beats emanating from NAH. It adds a much welcomed kick to Camae's punches. The duo, completely surrounded literally to their elbows, remains rocking as if space and time were no longer relevant. Bent forward, head high and kissing the mic, Camae turns in a circle to make eye contact with everyone. It's too wild for me to catch the words but her expression was enough. There's a seething anger accompanied by a compassionate determination. By now, a girl is dancing inside her personal space but Camae keeps keeping on until suddenly everything cuts off.
Apparently someone got too wild and tripped over the cable on the floor. When the music resumes minutes later, the mob had previously shuffled everyone in all directions so Camae again demands girls to the front.
Ever since my introduction to punk music years ago, I have steadily grown to appreciate politics in the music I consume. For Camae, she embodies the politics in the music she creates. In other words, Moor Mother is the musical personification of her politics. The two are inseparable. To see her live is a chance to touch and feel her experiences as a woman of color. I knew at that moment that politics became integral to the music I seek.
As I mentioned at number ten, Trophy Wife is the first white band I know that sings about race so it is rather fitting that they opened for Moor Mother. While I will never tire of the manner in which Diane and Katy play facing each other, the highlight of their set was listening to Diane sing "White Silence." There is no fragility in her voice.
Actually I lied. The highlight came entirely after the show. I had wanted to get Fetish Bones on CD, only to find that I spent most of my cash on the roadtrip. I ran outside and found Diane who lent me $7! So now I have a way to somewhat relive the amazing night until next time.
This has been a great year of live music. After 120 shows and over 430 bands, I reflect upon my top ten even though top 50 would have been much easier.
[words and photo of Moor Mother by The Paper]