By Nicole Wolf
On April 18, I had to the pleasure of attending Ibeyi’s concert in Austin. Ibeyi is an electronic R&B French-Cuban duo made up of twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz. They sing in a mixture of English and Yoruba, the official Nigerian language. I had seen Ibeyi’s name pop up in media the last couple of years, but I was not very familiar with their music. I was excited to get to discover this new band.
I made sure to get to the Mohawk as soon as doors opened so that I could stake out a good spot to stand for the show. The opening act, Sudie, took the stage shortly after I arrived. The Dallas native musician began looping sounds and her vocals to create hauntingly beautiful music. Before playing her song “Heartattack,” she explained to the crowd her inspiration for writing the song. She shared that she had woken up in the middle of the night from a panic attack in which it felt like she was having a heart attack. She got a call from her mother the next morning that her grandfather had passed away the previous night from a heart attack. Sudie allowing the listeners to hear the background story to such a personal song puts her in a vulnerable state and I have nothing but respect for artists who do this.
It was time for Ibeyi to take the stage when, instead, a man came onstage saying he had both bad and good news. The bad news, he explained, was that Naomi had lost her voice completely after performing at Coachella over the weekend, so she was not going to be able to sing. The good news was that, after a lot of consideration, Ibeyi was going to perform anyways! He urged the crowd to give Lisa our support since she was going to be the solo vocalist for the night. He promised we would be hearing a very special and unique Ibeyi performance.
Even though Naomi could not sing along with Lisa, Ibeyi put on a powerful performance! After the first couple of songs, Naomi would encourage the crowd to cheer on Lisa by waving her arms and pointing at Lisa. I have never been to a concert in which the crowd was so loud when cheering on the performers; there was so much support from Ibeyi’s fans. My favorite part of Ibeyi’s set was when they performed “No Man Is Big Enough for My Arms.” Before the song, Lisa explained that they had wrote this song during the last American presidential election when President Trump “bragged about sexually assaulting women.” Ibeyi incorporated parts of Michelle Obama’s speech about Trump’s alleged treatment of women into this song. I had never heard this song before, but I was completely moved by Ibeyi’s lyrics alongside Michelle Obama’s words. Before attending the show, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Ibeyi’s prevailing set moved me and I can now say that I am a huge fan.
All photos by Nicole Wolf.