On this very religious Friday night, a trio of bands rocked the Bowery Poetry Club. Starting with the Peter Wise Band, a 5-piece outfit played a solid 45-minute set of originals. The band, like the two that would follow, started at NYU’s Jazz Studies program and lead by formidable front man Peter Wise, commanded the stage with a presence rarely seen in such a young performer. Up next were The Bailen Brothers, fronted by twins Daniel and David Bailen who spearhead the songwriting efforts. The band treated the audience to an incredibly raucous hour-long set, which mixed in originals and covers and some well-placed shenanigans from the horn section, including the trombone player appearing on the bar and playing a solo from atop of it.As the clock struck 12:45, the eleven members of EMEFE piled on to the small stage, drummer and band leader Miles Arntzen led the band into a high energy trio of songs, “Kalakuta Show”, which was written by Fela Kuti, followed by “Oh That’s What It Is” which seamlessly segued into “Do Your Dance”.

The band, formed by Arntzen as he began at NYU in 2009, plays a similar style of Afrobeat music pioneered by Kuti in the ’70s. Over the past couple years, the band had gotten tighter and tighter, stopping on a dime and shifting through passages and songs without a hitch. EMEFE stands for the letters “MFA” which stands for “Music Frees All” which is a motto the band champions, and songs like “Do Your Dance” typify that as quickly the whole audience found themselves uncontrollably dancing.

Up next, “Motherland” the middle track off their latest EP, “Europe” which featured fantastic rotating solos. As the night grew later and later and the crowd sweatier and sweatier, the band played with more and more conviction as the horn stabs were tighter and the bottom end stronger. “Greed” and Birthday man to continue with the funky environment as the band played louder and the audience got more and more into the music. To close out their set, the band played a pair of covers, starting with “Penitentiary Philosophy” by Erykah Badu and closed out with “Alagbon Close ” by Fela Kuti to close out their hour-long set as the clock neared two, and made this a very Good Friday.

-Brian Weidy

Set list:

1. Kalakuta Show intro (Fela Kuti) 2. Oh That’s What It Is 3. Do Your Dance 4. Motherland 5. Title of The Work/Don Porfirio 6. Greed 7. Birthday Man 8. Penitentiary Philosophy (Erykah Badu) 9. Alagbon Close (Fela Kuti)

Get to know EMEFE: