In concert: Buraka Som Sistema at U Street Music Hall

Playing to a shouting, hopping, arm-thrusting U Street Music Hall crowd, the live lineup of Buraka Som Sistema repeatedly vowed to keep its Afro-techno-hip-hop going till dawn. The Portugal-based, Angola-rooted sound system performed two different versions of “(We Stay) Up All Night” -- a track from its new album, “Komba” -- but the song title wasn’t a literal contract. Most dance-floor bangers don’t stay up all night, especially on Tuesdays, and some of the fans had already vanished by the time the 75-minute set ended -- 40 minutes shy of midnight.


Portugal's Buraka Som Sistema — shown here during soundcheck at U Street Music Hall — tried to keep the party going until dawn. (All photos by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

The issue wasn’t a language barrier; the group’s two MCs, portly Andro “Conductor” Carvalho and lanky Kalaf Angelo, proved fluent in Anglo-hype. They regularly enjoined audience members to “jump jump jump” and “get your hand hands up”; they also often used a well-known four-letter word that’s of neither Angolan nor Portuguese origin. The communication gap didn’t increase noticeably when the vocalists, who also included fuchsia-lipsticked singer Blaya, abandoned English for the occasional chant. The metallic beats summoned by Joao “Lil John” Barbosa and Rui “DJ Riot” Pite were easily understood, even if they did have a German accent that upstaged any African flavor.


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