Tinariwen at Le Poisson Rouge

Post Author: , Serena Herrick

Tinariwen made their way to New York after being crowned the highlight of Coachella by press and hardcore gods alike. The group of nomadic, Sahara Desert wanderers who began in a refuge camp in Libya in the early 80s have become one of the most talked about bands from the entire continent for their incredible backstory, their mystique, and because as I witnessed first hand, they own the stage in a live setting.

I was treated to something that sounded like the cousin to Bo Diddley’s beat, but formed by djeembe and hand claps playing next to guitar that brought to mind any number of American or British bands from the last forty or so years – from 13th Floor Elevators to Spacemen 3 – to the call and response singing that at points could almost resemble hip hop or dub in it’s rapid fire delivery. The Tuareg musicians, in their flowing robes, and covered faces, showcased the fact that indeed nearly every type of popular music originates from the desert sands their people have roamed for centuries.