Review: Te Vaka
It’s hard to describe the music, partly because it is eclectic and partly because it includes a kind of pop-Polynesian fusion that is certainly unique in WC’s experience.
Most of the band members are from the remote islands of the South Pacific: Tokelau, Tuvalu, Samoa, Niuea and New Zealand. It’s Polynesian, but it’s very different from the Hawaia’an music most Americans are used to hearing. The group’s leader and chief songwriter, Opetaia Foa’i, mixes a kind of pop sensibility with Polynesian rhythms in some songs, and pure poly-rhythmic drumming in others. All of the lyrics were in Tokelauan, Foa’i's father’s tongue. The drumming was on Polynesian drums, but the rhythms were influenced by hip-hop as well as Polynesia. It was an interesting, compelling fusion. The drumming was simply outstanding.
Did WC mention the dancers? Two lovely ladies, Olivia Foa’i and Tremayne Lihou demonstrated that Hawaia’an hula dancers could learn a thing or two form their Polynesian cousins. Oh, there was a male dancer, too, Talaga Sale, but, honestly, when the ladies were dancing no guy in the audience was watching anything else.
WC also enjoyed the very talented drummer, Matatia Foa’i, who played both a drum kit and a pretty amazing set of log drums, as well as the multi-talented Neil Forrest, who played flute, a kind of electric slack key guitar, drums and keyboards. The band was tight, interacted well with the audience and seemed to enjoy themselves immensely.
Did WC mention the dancers?
Props to Fairbanks Concert Association for giving Fairbanks a shot of world music that was truly from the other side of the road. It was a great show.
Did WC mention the dancers? Wow.