RACHID TAHA with SUPERGENEROUS at Harbourfront Centre's Norigen Stage, June 24. Tickets: free. Attendance: 2,000. Rating: NNNN
anyone who's been to a show by a Paris-based rai artist knows that sinking feeling I had seeing the rack-mounted synth unit ominously set up on the Norigen Stage. Pleasant plinking openers Kevin Breit and Cyro Baptista of Supergenerous took no notice of the evil device as they puttered away unobtrusively at their Supergeneric Latinesque rhythms.
It's the sort of light 'n' cheery worldbeat-y fusion that's perfectly suited to a College Street cafe. Unfortunately, it couldn't hold the attention of the Sunday afternoon Harbourfront strollers who spent the set going back and forth to the food tent.
The whole tapping tedium was soon forgotten when diminutive rai star Rachid Taha confidently strode forth like an Algerian Bono, resplendent in leather flares and purple silk shirt set off by orange shades. Happily, the dangerous digital presence proved to be no trouble at all once the drums, bass and well-amped guitar kicked in.
The second his tight six-piece band began tearing through the funky tracks from his great Steve Hillage-produced Made In Medina (Barclay/Universal) disc, there was no longer any mystery about why Taha is breaking beyond the rai scene. This wasn't really rai at all -- it's loud, aggressive rock 'n' roll aimed below the waist.
By the third charging, Bo Diddley-style boogie, the elderly couples who'd been delighted by the Supergenerous whimsy were covering their ears and racing -- well, walking briskly -- toward the safety of Harbourfront Centre. Taha merely blew kisses at his homies shaking booty up front, and began thrusting his hips more provocatively as the surging caterwaul rising behind him rose to a deafening blast.
Before cutting out, Taha acknowledged the Pride Day celebrations by mumbling something and grabbing at his crotch in what some took to be a show of solidarity with his parading brethren. Er... yeah, that's it.