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Toubab Krewe at Compound Grill Last Night

Toubab Krewe on stage at Compound Grill in Phoenix.
Toubab Krewe on stage at Compound Grill in Phoenix.
Martin Cizmar

Toubab Krewe
Compound Grill
Saturday December 4, 2010


Here's something amazing that pretty well sums up the vibe at Saturday night's Toubab Krewe show at Compound Grill: They let the chicks bring in their hula hoops and, dammit, they used them!

In case you missed the memo, hula hooping is what hippie chicks started doing to take good ol' fashioned twirling to the next level. This NSFW image from Burning Man pretty much explains the phenomenon in it's entirety.

The problem, of course, is that most indoor venues (and even a lot of big outdoor ones) don't want people spinning giant things around other people who paid for tickets and who could, presumably, use other funds at their disposal to hire a lawyer who would sue the venue into oblivion if they were somehow injured by an errant hoop. At the very least, there must be occasional collateral damage in the form of beer spillage which must be replaced at venue expense.

So imagine my surprise when (terrible) opener Cas Haley (a rotund white man from Texas who plays reggae covers) ended his set with a one-song encore (he's apparently semi-famous from some show called America's Got Talent, which I have never seen but which blessed him with a dedicated following that cheered wildly then split after he finished) and out came the hoops.

Compound Grill isn't some dirt-floored shack on the edge of town. Well, actually, it is on the edge of town, but on the northern edge where the rich people live, just down the street from the Mayo Clinic. It's a swanky joint -- probably the prettiest venue in town -- with wood floors, soft orange light and modern leather couches. It's a gorgeous place to see any show, though it just so happens they mostly book jammy stuff. The crowd at this show was heavy on zip-off pants and long skirts with a few pairs of Crocs, some dreads and a little tie-dye tossed in for color.

(Here's a little announcement, though: Compound has booked Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, who sold out Clubhouse on a Tuesday earlier this year. That show should greatly expand their profile amongst a younger, hipper demographic in the near future. Watch for it.)

ANYWAY, the point is, they let these chicks in the place with hoops and they spun them like mad while the band played their brand of improvisational Southern Rock-meets-Afro-influenced jazz.

The North Carolina (Ashville, natch) band -- their name is, yes, a play on the
name of Luther Campbell's foul-mouthed Miami rap group, using "toubab,"a
West African slang word that means, essentially, "honky" -- rocked the fuck out as they bounced through phrases and moods from their first two records and the crowd responded with a fury of circular gyration.

The songs are almost all instrumental and don't really have names, so breaking it all down into a traditional concert review seems a little too silly for me. Let's just say there were a lot of nice moments.

My favorite: At one point (near the end of the fourth song, I think) things got a little too metal for people to happily bounce around to in a mellow little haze. So, slowly, the dancing ground to a halt while the band finished up that particularly harsh coda.

The hoops even stopped. Glad they were paying attention, not just taking advantage of the opportunity to spin inside.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Toubab Krewe and Cas Haley at Compound Grill

Personal Bias: I've argued hippie music is on a downswing, but Toubab Krewe seems to show otherwise.

The Crowd: Pretty oldish, actually, with some younger hippie types. There was, as far as I could tell, only one girl with feathers in her hair.

Overheard: It wasn't so much what I heard as what I saw that struck me -- lots of people hugging other people like they knew them well. It seemed like a tight-knit crowd.


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