A brief history of Antibalas The musical collective known as Antibalas (Spanish for bullet-proof or anti-bullets) was conceived of in Mexico City and formed in Brooklyn New York. The early nucleus of the group was composed of the band's founder Martín Perna and later included several other members (Gabriel Roth, Michael Wagner, Del Stribling aka Binky Griptite, Victor Axelrod, Fernando Bugaloo Velez, Anda Szilagyi) from the Soul Providers / Dap Kings band. performing their first show in May 1998 at St. Nick's Pub in Harlem NY.
A few months into the group's existence, Perna and Roth, on a walk through their southside Williamsburg neighborhood, met Amayo, who at the time owned a boutique / kung fu studio / arts space where he sold his own fashion designs, held shows. They invited Amayo, who grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and was fluent in the music of Fela, to see a show in the neighborhood. A few weeks later, they called again to ask him to fill in for a percussionist for a show at the Cooler (NYC) and he joined the band shortly thereafter. Within months he began composing and performing lyrics and assuming the role of the group's lead vocalist / frontman.
The nascent group spent its early months rehearsing and composing at Desco 41st street studios and later the first Daptone Studios at Amayo's Afro Spot. Eschewing all commercial venues for the first year, they performed exclusively in alternative spaces in lofts, community markets, parks, art spaces like Sara Roosevelt Park, Taller Latinoamericano, Brecht Forum, and the Angel Orensanz Center.