Audiences interested in a crash course in Afro-futurism had a chance to see the genre's past and future in Philadelphia last week. Founding father George Clinton played the Ardmore Music Hall on Wednesday, while current torchbearers Shabazz Palaces landed at Union Transfer on Friday, performing for a small but rapt crowd.
The duo plays a warped sci-fi mutation of hip-hop that incorporates equal doses of EDM and old-fashioned eccentricity and makes their music sound like nothing else on the current scene.
Shabazz Palace's second full-length album, Lese Majesty, layers voices, percussion, and synthesized noises into a hazy psychedelic whorl, a densely absorbing headspace that seemed daunting to re-create live. But on Friday, the songs took on a fiercer groove while sacrificing little of their inherent weirdness. The fragmentary tunes have small regard for traditional song structure and tend to bleed into one another so fluidly that when the duo actually paused for a moment, there was an unusually long silence before the entranced audience remembered to applaud.