photos by Nate Watters

Mbongwana Star at Coachella, April 15, 2016

The drummer was all fills, somehow never breaking a sweat or losing the pocket while the lone guitarist switched back and forth between rapid rhythmic runs and spacey pedal-powered yawps that blew all that grounding groove into the atmosphere. More to the point, the true stars of Mbongwana were the group's co-founders and primary vocalists, Coco Ngambali and Théo Ntsituvuidi. Both use wheelchairs due to polio, but the former's high, hoarse wail soared above the field, and the latter's hypnotic chant was almost otherworldly – an impression perhaps colored by the fact that he was wearing plush Yoda ears and wraparound Geordi La Forge-style shades. He'd also slap his wheels, shimmy the chair to the frenetic beats, and pop his body halfway into the air when not leading the fresh-faced crowd in call-and-response. "Is good?" Ntsituvuidi asked after half of the songs, and there was always only one possible answer: "IS GOOD!" - [Rolling Stone]

Congolese band Mbongwana Star are currently in the U.S. for appearances at Coachella and you can check out a set of pictures from their Weekend 1, Day 1 set in this post. The band made a splash with their debut album, From Kinasha, which is a joyous representation of their "new style" sound, self-described as "space ipno afro punk rock electro !!! style." If you dig Konono No.1 (who feature on album highlight "Malukayi") or William Onyeabor and you haven't heard From Kinasha yet, rectify that immediately and listen via Spotify (and check out a few music videos) below.

Mbongwana Star will be in NYC this summer to play Central Park SummerStage on Sunday, August 14 with Batida and Young Paris. That's a free show. It's also currently the only other North American show announced at this time, but all dates are listed below.

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Mbongwana Star - 2016 Tour Dates
Fri 22 Apr Coachella (Weekend 2) Indio, CA, US
Fri 29 Apr Donau Festival Krems, Austria
Sat 30 Apr Le Silex Auxerre, France
Thu 05 May Jazz Sous Les Pommiers Coutances, France
Fri 06 May Ancien Marche De Gros Lyon, France
Fri 06 May Nuits Sonores Lyon, France
Thu 02 Jun Primavera Sound Festival Barcelona, Spain
Fri 03 Jun Le Tamanoir Gennevilliers, France
Thu 09 Jun St David's Hall Cardiff, UK
Sat 11 Jun The Sage Gateshead Gateshead, UK
Sun 12 Jun Field Day London, UK
Mon 13 Jun Komedia Brighton Brighton, UK
Tue 14 Jun Norwich Arts Centre Norwich, UK
Thu 16 Jun SWG3 Glasgow, UK
Sat 18 Jun Body & Soul Festival Meath, Ireland
Sun 19 Jun Africa Oye Liverpool, UK
Tue 21 Jun The Lantern, Colston Hall 2 Bristol, UK
Wed 22 Jun Howard Assembly Room Leeds, UK
Thu 23 Jun Band on the Wall Manchester, UK
Thu 30 Jun Med Festival Loule, Portugal
Wed 06 Jul WORLDWIDE FESTIVAL 2012 Sete, France
Fri 08 Jul Pohoda Festival Trencin, Slovakia
Tue 12 Jul Skral Festival Grimstad, Norway
Fri 15 Jul Colours Of Ostrava Ostrava, Czech Republic
Sun 17 Jul Dour Festival Dour, Belgium
Thu 21 Jul Tempo Rives Angers, France
Sat 23 Jul FESTIVAL ZIK ZAC Aix-en-Provence, France
Mon 25 Jul New Morning Paris, France
Mon 25 Jul New Morning Paris, France
Wed 17 Aug Malmöfestivalen Malmö, Sweden
Sun 14 Aug Central Park SummerStage NYC
Thu 18 Aug Goteborgs Kulturkalas Gothenburg, Sweden
Fri 19 Aug Stockholm Kulturfestival Stockholm, Sweden
Sun 21 Aug Tempo Rives Angers, France