As I ramp up for Coachella, I thought I’d explore some of the bands playing, many of which I don’t know much about. Basically, I closed my eyes and pointed at the lineup. Today my band exploration leads to Mobangwana Star, playing on Friday.

So I knew absolutely zero about this band, not even a blip on my radar, so I started on their website, which only has basic information. After skimming over the site, I hit play on the YouTube video for Nganshe and was immediately intrigued. It’s certainly a sound straight out of their hometown of Kinshasha in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but it goes beyond the stereotypes of African (world) music. I can totally throw around the expected sentiment that this is modern African music or has a street music feel, but it is so much more than that. The expected Congolese drums shine along with the soukous guitars, but the electro punk distortion grinds away under the throaty vocals.

Then I went to find other videos and discovered that the other tracks on their album break all stereotypes and devolve so much further from that world music vibe. It’s funky, a little punk, and a definite sweaty dance party in the making.

Mbongwana translates as “change” and according to Nowness that change is embodied in the band’s self-styled new genre: “space-afro punk-rock electro.”

Whether or not I catch Mbongwana Star at Coachella depends largely on who they are playing against. I do know their set will be fun, both on stage and in the crowd. Mbongwana just shot high on my must see list for Friday.


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