Geneseo Late Knight and Peace Action Geneseo held “Music for Action” in the Knight Spot on Friday March 27. The performance aimed to promote peace and social justice through music, featuring locally-based Red Kettle Collective and the Albany-based group Taína Asili y la Banda Rebelde. Geneseo’s own Red Kettle Collective opened with a blend of funk and hip-hop to warm up the audience. The seven-man group not only offered a drummer, guitarist, bassist, singer and keyboardist, but also incorporated in a trumpet and saxophone. All the performers came together to give a high-energy show packed with groovy funk riffs and nicely constructed hip-hop lyrics to boot.
Red Kettle Collective’s song “Stranger Lands” embodied the night’s fusion vibe. The group is playing at Kelly’s Saloon on Friday April 3 to celebrate the release of their new EP.
Next, Puerto Rican vocalist Taína Asili took the stage with her group la Banda Rebelde—the Rebel Band—to fill the venue with her Afro-Latin, reggae and rock sounds.
The singer assembled the band in an effort to spread her message of love and resistance through music that touches on social injustice and racial issues. Asili aimed to inspire those in attendance with an entertaining show influenced by many different cultures fused into one cohesive performance.
At the beginning of the set, Asili urged everyone to “dance to the movement of rebellion.” The whole show was engaging. La Banda Rebelde truly blurred the line between performer and audience members, encouraging dancing and having a fun call-and-response between Asili and the crowd.
The singer’s culture was deeply woven into the music. For example, the catchy song “Sofrito” is about a special Puerto Rican sauce Asili grew up with. The band covered heavier topics as well, referencing mass incarceration and racism. Despite the themes of struggle that she confronted, Asili filled the room with positivity. La Banda Rebelde finished the set with the upbeat “War Cry” which incorporated five different languages and stressed the overarching point of harmony through music.
This year marks Asili’s 20th year of making music and performing for social change. She explained that her parents heavily influenced her to start performing, as they were politically involved as activists for Latin American causes and musically-inclined as well.
Asili did not begin with Afro-Latin fusion, however. “My first eight years were in the punk scene, and I’d say that I gathered my rebellious nature from my years in a punk band,” she said. “Of course, my Latin American cultural roots are in there.” Although the singer does not try to emulate anyone for the sake of originality, she noted that she is influenced by diverse acts such as Rage Against the Machine, Nina Simone and Hugh Masekela.
The students lucky enough to witness Friday’s performance were surely moved by the combination of political commentary and feel-good jams. Fruit of Hope is the name of both Asili’s newest album and the United States tour the band is currently on. They will begin their European Tour in June.