It's hard to say just what was running hotter at the Kalabash Restaurant late Sunday night and well into Monday morning: the dance rhythms or the room temperature. Aptly described by some hosts as "soca madness," the concert featuring Trinidad and Tobago's soul-calypso stars David Rudder and Chris "Tambu" Herbert kept the packed house dancing and jumping in stifling heat for hours.
Perhaps because he sensed the crowd's holiday spirit, Rudder didn't dwell long on the more political songs he's written in recent years, though he did perform the new "1990" and a passionate anti-apartheid song. Instead, he and his 10-piece horn-driven band, Charlie's Roots, focused primarily on making the most of soca's original party thrust. Obviously no stranger to soul music or showmanship, Rudder worked the crowd tirelessly -- singing, shouting and sometimes firing one word over and over again at a machine gun clip against a backdrop of infectious Caribbean rhythms and blasting horn riffs.
Equally kinetic was Tambu, though his lighter, more lyrical voice didn't carry as well throughout the hall. No matter. Unlike Rudder, he came strictly to party, and his constant, joyful prodding of the crowd to raise its hands, jump up and "wine" -- or dance -- never once fell on deaf ears.