Nine-piece band brings afrobeat funk to The Lariat

Afrobeat band Atomga will play The Lariat for the third time this year, taking the stage at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

“We’re excited to get back up there,” said saxophonist Leah Concialdi. “The past couple times have been great, and every time we play there it gets bigger and better. The staff treats us really well, and the people are all out dancing. … We love playing where people are into the music and helping create great energy.”

Concialdi said the band’s line-up has changed recently, which has been “really reinvigorating. I feel like it’s the best line-up we’ve had so far. Everyone’s excited and motivated.”

Atomga’s new members are vocalist Lasha “Calyptic” Afarko and drummer J.R. Ranck.

“We’ve known Lasha for quite a few years, and she’s played some gigs with us,” said Concialdi. “We miss Kendra a lot, but she moved back to Grand Junction to be closer to family. Having Lasha come on board just seems like a natural progression for the band.”

Concialdi said Ranck is well-known around the Colorado music scene. “We reached out to him, and he was excited about the opportunity. He really nailed his audition. He’s a solid pocket drummer with a great sense of time. He’s a great fit interpersonally as well as being able to lay down that rhythmic foundation.”

When it comes to musical influences, “Fela Kuti is huge. He invented the afrobeat style,” said Concialdi. “We opened for his son, Seun, in September. He’s a living legend and the closest thing to Fela. The members of his band were members of Fela’s band.”

More modern influences include Antibalas, a Brooklyn-based afrobeat band. “They’re at the forefront of afrobeat music today,” said Concialdi. “Brazilian band Bixiga 70 is another important afrobeat band.”

Individually, Concialdi said the band members bring a wide range of musical influences to Atomga – jazz, funk, hip hop, progressive rock, rock ’n’ roll – but what brought them together is a love of afrobeat music.

Even so, Concialdi said one of her favorite things about the band, especially during live performances, is playing songs that “aren’t necessarily afrobeat.” Because afrobeat isn’t the best-known style of music, she enjoys engaging audience members with songs they may have heard but doing them in an afrobeat style.

On the horizon, Atomga will be announcing a CD release party.

“We’re in the final stages of mastering our new EP and looking at a February release,” said Concialdi. “We’re going to announce the CD release party soon.”

She also said we can expect to see Atomga doing some festivals this summer as well as touring regionally.

For anyone who hasn’t caught an Atomga show in BV yet, this is a funky opportunity not to miss, and if you need more convincing, check out Atomga.com for reviews or to stream the band’s music.

The bottom line, as Concialdi said, “Everyone should be prepared to have a good time and dance. It’s really funky, approachable music, and we like seeing people of all walks come together at our shows.”