Jon Batiste & his Stay Human Band at Zouk – A Love Riot

Jon Batiste

Seeing the 26 year old, über talented and incredibly versatile master in a huge range of styles, Jonathan Batiste and his Stay Human Band live at the Zouk Mikael International Music Festival live last night was an absolute treat. He has an intoxicating energy, his light and humorous interaction with the audience – he doesn’t keep much distance, rather seeks close interaction, and the set-up at Zouk lent itself perfectly for that kind of interplay – is in stark contrast with his complete control of musical meanderings that traverse a great variety of styles. He effortlessly hops from one track to the next, his equally fantastic band are the perfect partners in crime, playing along jokes and ready to take up any challenging note, beat or riff thrown at them. Jon and his band indulged the audience and gave three encores.

According to his Wikipedia entry, “Jonathan and his band are particularly known for actively engaging with audiences in an effort to create greater accessibility to and appreciation for the art of live music. The band draws its moniker from the belief that the human interaction of a live musical performance can uplift humanity in the midst of the “plug in/tune out” nature of modern day society. Either on tour or during time off, the band can be seen spontaneously playing in non traditional venues and starting impromptu demonstrations through the streets which Jon and the band have termed as “Love Riots”.”

Bringing together the lovely, classically trained Monica Yunus with the Stay Human Band was a bold move but musically, the opera singer had not enough of a raspy, groovy, full-bodied, jazzy and wild voice to match the boys in the band. Still, the festival ought to be commended to take risks and to bring out young rising stars and albeit a challenging economic context, not merely going for commercial crowd-pulling acts.

A night to remember, a man (& band) to follow!

Image taken from


About Tales from a Small Country

I'm a project coordinator and features writer with a passion for the seventh art, a keen interest in culture and mobility, as well as social and environmental subjects. Half French, half German by origin possibly explains why I am drawn to divided countries and diverse societies: I called Cape Town in South Africa home for over a decade before coming to Beirut in early 2012. Besides people watching and cats, I also love Tripoli, Lebanon's second city.
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