Antibalas Star Theater Thursday, March 31st 2022

A completely empty venue with only minutes before the opening act took the stage.

Another show I almost missed because I didn’t hear about it till two weeks before the event. Only because I was looking at the True Loves touring page and saw a show in Portland that I knew Antibalas was playing at Star Theater. In fact I was a lot shocked that Antibalas was touring again. Last thing I read was they where breaking up. I think what happened was the lead singer moved on to do different things while the core band stuck around. If they did officially break up the rest of the band couldn’t stay away for long and eventually started jamming and creating new music. With all the new music they created a tour was in order and I agree.

I last saw Antibalas back in 2020 as part of the PDX Jazz Festival and it was a great show. I didn’t know what to expect from the band this time but I was really excited to see both acts. Honestly I was more excited to see True Loves perform and they didn’t disappoint. I arrived to the venue rather early….the place was empty when I arrived. I checked out the downstairs and decided to head to the balcony for a seat. I grabbed a Coke and settle in at a small table along the balcony for a good night of music.

True Loves opened the night’s performance right on time. I felt bad when they walked out on stage. The entire venue was empty. There might have been 30 people in the whole place but this quickly changed within 10 minutes. People started to filter in from the lounge area and more people filtered in from outside. By the end of the night the place was smashed and I would say they had a larger crowd than Antibalas that night.

True Loves

True Loves play a short set but a good one full of energy. I have seen them a few times and it was a greatest hits from their current album Sunday Afternoon. I’m not intimately familiar with their work but I didn’t recognize any new material. Just good funk and soul done well. One things in particular I enjoyed was the trading of solos between band members which was fun.

It seems that by the time things really go going the set was over. True Loves certainly got the crowd energized for the Antibalas performance. Lots of people took a break and headed outside to the lounge for fresh air and drinks. I stayed at my seat and just watched people. As covid wanes, really just people getting tired of it, its great watching people again.

Without much fan fare Antibalas took the stage to what seemed a half full venue. As they started into the set the crowd slowly filtered to the front of the stage. Near as I can tell it is the same band members from the before times but they replaced the lead singer. A new member was joining them on tour. I think it was for only the last song that he actually sang. Besides that song he mostly played tambourine. Every other song the band played was an instrumental. For me this was a much better performance. Nothing against the band leader before but for me it was so much more enjoyable just listening to the beats and rhythm without words getting in the way.


All night they played many of their hits but also a shit ton of new material. They explained easily a year after the breakup and with covid restrictions in full force, the band got creative and started jamming again. They started creating new music and have a bunch of new material so finally went on tour. They said that many of the songs are getting their first taste of an audience and that was cool. These are probably not the final version of the songs but it was awesome to hear new material. Some really good stuff and I hope they are able to produce a new album of content from it all. I also hope for more shows from both bands in the PNW now and again.

Such an amazing night of music from both bands. The soul and funk from True Loves was incredible. The place was jumping and full of energy after their set. Then Antibalas comes on stage and blows the roof of the place with a new member and tons of new music. From my perch in the balcony I was able to witness this in real time. I enjoyed people watching as the rather large crowd got down with the funk. Not sure when either band will tour Portland again but it’s always a stop on the calendar for them so I look forward to both bands coming back soon.

Antibalas Thursday, March 31st 2022
True Loves open

Star Theater
13 NW 6th Ave
Portland, OR 97209

True Loves
Set starts at 8:00pm

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    Set over at 8:48pm

Set starts at 9:18pm

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  3. Escape
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    Set over at 10:52pm

Encore starts at 10:54pm

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    House lights at 11:01pm