Netsayi & Black Pressure
Review by J Hunter
There are days when the Inner Banshee screams for me to find something different, something new, something unknown. Fortunately, it’s only a short, scenic (and fun) drive to MASS MoCA, where the curators think outside the box that “The Box” came in! That’s why – on the strength of one video posted on the groundbreaking museum’s web site – I was checking out Netsayi & Black Pressure.
I’ve seen many shows in MASS MoCA’s courtyard space, but never in the configuration I was presented with: The bar area that overlooks the courtyard had been turned into an outdoor music club, with a small stage stuck into the corner nearest the museum; tables were set close together, with a few rows of seats laid out at the back near the actual bar – which was already doing Land Office business when I stepped onto the wooden deck. It was intimate, to say the least, but it was also perfect for Netsayi, who is nothing if not intimate.
Now, I don’t mean “intimate” in the Joni Mitchell/Buffy Saint-Marie “sensitive singer-songwriter” sense, although Netsayi’s lyrics do take you close to her heart. But the messages Netsayi sends out are all about empowerment and education – empowerment for the 99-percent, education about what’s happening (and what should happen) in the places where justice is in short supply. “These are the facts of life where we come from,” Netsayi said about her home country of Zimbabwe. “We have land issues. Did you know that?” she asked in her intro to Miriam Makeba’s still-contemporary classic “A Piece of Ground.” The night’s opening song “Hondo” – which translates to “War” – was about “the necessity of fighting for what you believe.” You could apply that to Zimbabwe, which was born out of revolution, but the belief and energy that radiated from the slow-building song could make you take up arms against anything that confronted you.