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By the time the soundman got the mix right, which was about four songs into the set, a near-capacity crowd had climbed over numerous spilled drinks and filled every nook and cranny of the Belly Up to catch a proper vantage point of Saharan rebel rockers Tinariwen.

The band's inspired journey from fighting in the Tuareg resistance against Mali and Niger in the early ’90s to captivating audiences with a barrage of guitars and hand drums in 2011 is reflected in their mantra "music is a weapon." Like Bob Marleys occupying their own distinct time and space, the pure, peaceful message of these desert blues practitioners resonates with crowds who don't speak a lick of Tamashek.

Tinariwen's set began with the serpentine rhythms of "Imidiwan Ma Tennam," the intro to their soon to be released Tassili, an acoustic album featuring contributions from Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio as well as Nels Cline of Wilco. Through songs old and new, the absorbing call-and-response among the band members spilled into the fervent handclaps of the audience in a recirocal display of positive energy that defined the night.

  • Concert: Tinariwen
  • Date: July 12
  • Venue: Belly Up Tavern
  • Seats: General Admission
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