Toward the end of Black Blondie's set Sunday night, the asphalt of Irving Avenue was starting to look mighty comfortable. The heat, the loud music, and the mere thought of Café Barbette's normally enticing pomme frites worked me into a queasy, dizzy mess. Had a less agreeable ensemble been scoring my decline, a lot of Bastille Day revelers might have had the misfortune of watching me lose my déjeuner.
The "R" section of this R&B group could entertain on their own, with Tasha Baron laying down hypnotic swirls of jazz chords on her Rhodes and Liz Draper's fingers scrambling over the neck of an upright bass. (Drummer and token male Kahlil Brewington seemed happy with letting the ladies hog the spotlight.) Sarah White's alto vocals held the melodies steady, while Samahra floated above with a quick vibrato reminiscent of Erykah Badu (or, if you want to give credit where it's due, Billie Holiday). The co-frontwomen tried to keep the set family-friendly, though there wasn't much they could do about their favorite song. (It's hard to sanitize a number about cunnilingus when the chorus goes, "stinky and delicious, sticky and nutritious.") With a set that was sexy, hazy, and slow, Black Blondie matched the mood of the evening and made the humidity a bit more bearable. If you really must lay down in a crowd of strangers and watch the world spin above you, there are far less soothing sounds to nearly pass out to.