In a city with endless things to do and a sea of musical acts to explore on any given night, it’s not too often that I get overly excited about a show in NYC, but when my friend Laura introduced me to the world of Memba I was craving to find out more.
Reaching the homepage of their website, I was very perplexed at first to see a series of trippy visuals, including what seemed to be a voodoo looking man moving around the screen as I heard a tribalesque remix of “Poetic Justice” playing in the background (which I later found out was Memba’s own remix). I was told to punch in a password and so I did. Once I arrived to the homepage, I read an excerpt that invited me to Memba’s debut live performance, at a warehouse location in Bushwick I knew nothing about (classic Bushwick). I was instructed to arrive on time at 10 and to wear a tribal costume or anything celebrating self-expression. My immediate thoughts were, this could either be a total bust OR it could be an extremely fun and unique experience. My gut was leading me towards the latter.
Entering the doors of the show, I knew my gut was right. This tiny little studio was packed with people dressed in all kinds of costumes from wigs to animal onesies and with even a touch of face paint for some. The show had not started yet as guests were given an hour to mingle with other guests. I would later find out that this was all planned in an attempt to foster a sense of community in the room. A place where people could bond and connect over music. I couldn’t help but want to embrace my inner weird side so I immediately ran over to the table of mustaches and face paint in the middle of the room and grabbed a black mustache for myself. Right around 11, the opening DJ stopped playing his music and the lights dimmed. It was time for the main act.
As Memba walked in they were accompanied by a crew of hype men and women dressed in animal onesies jumping and dancing, which pretty much set the energy in the room for the rest of the show. Working with 1 laptop, 3 drumpads, ableton push, 1 electric guitar and 1 electric bass within the constraints of a small room, Memba nonetheless managed to create a stellar live performance mixing in a variety of tribal and trap- infused tracks throughout their set. In between them and the audience was a huge white screen, which was projecting a variety of trippy visuals, a perfect compliment to a trippy mix of tribal, vibey, groovey live music. What was most refreshing about this show was that it reminded me a lot of the community driven aspect of a secret show that was so cherished back in the day by older ravers and music fans.
That sense of community-driven roots is what Memba is trying to bring back to life. While their next show has yet to be announced, the boys are hard at work on their first album! The Memba project has only been around for under 5 months and they’ve already got a huge vision. I could sense the excitement in their tone over the phone a few days after the show, as they spoke about an album that is meant to tell a larger story and will aim to showcase a variety of culturally infused sounds from around the world. That story is still being fleshed out, but that’s the most refreshing part about a new project in it’s rudimentary stages. We don’t really know what to expect. Their concept of worldly music that aims to bring back a sense of community among fans is a message I can stand behind and I’m excited to see what the future holds for these guys.