The Washington Post
The twin-sister act Ibeyi brings its globe-trotting, no-boundaries music to the 9:30 Club.
The twin sisters behind the French Cuban duo Ibeyi stepped onto the 9:30 Club stage Sunday in matching jumpsuits, but that was where the similarities ended.
“Even if we’re twins, we’re actually quite opposites,” LisaKaindé Diaz, who was seated with her jumpsuit zipped up, told the crowd. Naomi Diaz, perched on a cajón next to her sister, offered a grin, a layer of necklaces glinting from where she had her jumpsuit slightly unzipped.
What the Diaz sisters do share is a heritage and a musical legacy. Their father was Afro-Cuban drummer Miguel “Angá” Díaz, known for his influence in Latin jazz and his work in groups such as Irakere and Buena Vista Social Club. The sisters, who were primarily raised in Paris, learned Yoruba chants in a choir as teenagers. (“Ibeyi” is from the Yoruba for “twins.”)
As a result, their self-titled 2015 debut album heavily featured Yoruba, with English and French woven around haunting vocal harmonies, sparse but percussion and cathartic homages to family and roots.
“Ash,” Ibeyi’s second album, added more sweeping synths, hip-hop-inspired rhythms and pop-oriented melodies. The sisters’ expansive, multilayered sound shimmered on the record, and onstage at the 9:30 Club it bloomed in bright, fast-moving color, with all the textures, all the peaks and valleys, like a map.
The night was an ode to textured sounds, the kind that felt as if they could be draped across the skin like a scarf. Los Angelesbased experimental singer-viohard-hitting linist Sudan Archives opened the show with collisions of string techniques and intricate beats. Then Ibeyi expanded the space further with Lisa-Kaindé’s searing vocals and Naomi’s robust drumming, creating room for a long-needed exhale and celebratory release.
Boundaries no longer seemed to apply. “We are deathless!” the sisters urged the crowd to yell during “Deathless,” a defiant, communal anthem based on Lisa-Kaindé’s encounter with a policeman when she was 16. Their first song in Spanish, “Me Voy,” offered hip-shaking euphoria, with the sisters dancing freely.
The only misstep of the night occurred when Ibeyi played the “Hamilton”-inspired track “Rise Up Wise Up Eyes Up,” a flat and muddled collaboration they’d contributed to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamildrops” series. Ultimately, though, the sisters recovered their momentum by returning to their own muses and inviting the crowd to behold the worlds — of the past, of the future — that live inside their songs.