Opening their set with the Bulgarian choir transported “I Carried This For Years”, Ibeyi, the Franco-Cuban duo, took the stage at Kesselhaus on Sunday night.
Divine, in matching loose fitting blue African print jumpsuits, the twins sang into the microphone, as they snake lunged their way through quicksand across the stage back lit by a kaleidoscopic bevy of blooming flowers.
Within moments the celestial sounds faded away and the twins, gracious and present, sat center stage at their instruments. “I’m still waiting for my song,” explains Lisa-Kainde from behind the piano, through her flinty French accented voice. She naively points to her sister, who sits to her left atop the box-shaped instrument known as the cajón drum. Even though her face is fixed towards the sold-out audience, Lisa-Kainde playfully laments that she has paid homage to Naomi on the track “I Wanna Be Like You”, and is patiently waiting for a song to be devoted to her.
She spills a side-eye towards Naomi, who simply responds with a lowered head, a sign any behavioral psychologist might categorize as an admittance of guilt. Maybe she’s too “wild and free”, suggests the lyrics. Oh that Naomi. The rumors swaying through the palm trees of Havana might just be true. Throughout the show, she just can’t seem to stop herself from being the life of the party. The crowd falls for her whip, wine and nae nae and Naomi, with her hair slicked back into a bun and her mouth cocked to the side, bobs and bounces, unfettered by her shyness.
The magnetic Lisa-Kainde and Naomi Diaz are touring their second album, Ash, the concept of which was conceived in wake of Donald Trump’s grab- ‘em-by-the-pussy-campaign. Inspired, the twins grab back with musical activism giving birth to “No Man Is Big Enough For My Arms”. Lisa-Kainde and her halo of hair, break it down, as she loops the sample of Michele Obama speech, “The measure of any society is how it treats women and girls.” The crowd, fervently chanted the anthem, as if it were their own personal truth, but never for a second taking their eyes off of Lisa in those precious moments when she was absorbed in the sound of the movement they have created.
The sheer presence of Lisa-Kainde and Naomi Diaz on stage unfolds like an embryonic dance
And that’s the thing about the Diaz twins. At 24 years-old, they have cultivated a style and presence paralleled only by seasoned performers. They are accessible and share their world. Uncontrived by their natural beauty, these women are about the music and it that in all earnestness that warrants the viewer to take a closer look.
The sheer presence of Lisa-Kainde and Naomi Diaz on stage unfolds like an embryonic dance. Lisa-Kainde voice, angelic as it is robust lifts the listener to their toes and Naomi, ear to the batá drums with precision and intensity, grounds that which has been lifted.
During the song “Away Away”, the twins face each other in the center of the stage to harmonize on the refrain, “Aine wayeke, aina wayeke”. The lyric, loosely translates to female spirit who apparently guides them both through the demanding vocals and then subsequently into each others arms, as the house light dim and the song fades out.
As they offer out one intimate song after another in which complex scenarios and feelings unfold onto a tapestry of female empowerment, joy, anti-racist sentiment, Yoruban mythology, friendship. They are compact and drenched in their own unique sound.
Closing their set after an encore, Naomi raspy voice floats on “Waves” which flowed seamlessly into their 2014 hit, “River”, the song that announced to would-be fans that they should make space in their hearts for Ibeyi. After tonight’s performance it’s clear that the twins have plenty more to give and all we have to do is bask in the sun and moon that is the world Diaz twins.