Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra Induces Dance Fever with Its Exotic World Sounds

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Jeff Moses
Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra performs at Crescent Ballroom.
It's 2014 and high time you got some new music into your playlist -- seriously. And that's doubly true when it comes local music, of which there's an abundance in metro Phoenix. The Valley's music scene is gifted with burgeoning bands and emerging artists who will be making waves and getting attention this year.

Up on the Sun is highlighting more than a dozen such acts for our series 14 Bands You Need to Hear in 2014. Today, Troy Farah profiles the Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra.

Pop quiz, hotshot: How many people can you cram on a single stage before its structural integrity is at risk? In true MythBusters fashion, the Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra is in the business of finding out the answer to the question.

Fourteen members make up this local supergroup, including dudes and dudettes from at least 20 other bands, truly defining the "orchestra" portion of the act's name. But they don't rock Bach or Wagner. Instead, they offer an exotic mixture of world music, electronic dance tunes, funk, prog rock, samba, and, of course, Afrobeat.

See also: Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra - Crescent Ballroom - 12/8/2013

As you may have noticed, dancing is not Phoenix's strong point. In fact, most audiences kind of suck when it comes to cutting rugs at shows. Luckily, the members of PAO (rhymes with "wow") weave tempestuous and tropical-inspired influences into a potent brew that induces ass-shaking at their performances, where dancing is de rigueur. And the crowds are getting larger.

Their momentum only continues to grow. In fact, their fifth show drew an unheard of 200 eager disco-ready fans both young and old.

Right now, the orchestra are refining the covers they perform and are prepping original cuts for later this spring. PAO brings a lot more than Afrocentric grooves to this dusty desert sprawl, however, as they deliver a sense of unity, empathy and rhythm to both the local music scene and, as their Facebook page states are "committed to the global unification of all mammals through musical trance." Sounds groovy.
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Check out more bands and artists that you need to hear in 2014

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1 comments
jermainekelly
jermainekelly

i absolutely am in love with afrobeat.  In running the online/offline promotion arm of http://www.immiter.com, a website that deliveres unsigned and emerging content to listeners, i always hold my breath on every new submission with 'who's going to be the next Fela?' in the back of my mind.  

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