Fest Focus: Tal National

by Van McNeil

Tal National are from Niamey, the capital city of Niger in West Africa. Their live show is a joy to behold and a memorable experience. It’s undoubtably “rock ’n’ roll,” but not in the familiar Western sense. Their sound is stinging sharp and loud, but it’s also simultaneously rooted in African melodies. The New York times stated on their Best of 2013 list that Tal National’s music is “leaping ahead with one surprise after another: guitar parts that align and diverge and reconfigure, drumming that pounces on offbeats. The patterns are crisp, complex and tireless, but Tal National is no funk machine: It’s alive.”

Tal National is made up of a highly distinct ensemble of West African musicians from such diverse ethnicities as the Songhai, Fulani, Hausa and Tuareg people. The resulting energy unleashed from these musicians is unrelenting and precise, seriously impressive. They are known and loved in their home country of Niger for their truly epic live shows, which can last up to FIVE HOURS. Their music holds a poignant message, a statement for a peaceful and multicultural Niger for everyone. Leave your cynicism at the door and bring your best smiles because these guys are gonna show us a good time.

Tal National will be performing two sets at Festival International: April 25 from 9:15-10:30 p.m. on the Scène Lafayette General Fais Do Do stage and April 26 from 5:15- 6:30 p.m. at Scène TV5MONDE Lafayette.

Here’s Tal National’s delightful video for “Claire” off their new album Zoy Zoy.