HomeBlogsJeff Hewitt's blogLAVA Presents: Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, Options, & Carnival Bird at Toast

LAVA Presents: Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, Options, & Carnival Bird at Toast

October 12, 2018425Views

Nnamdi Ogbonnaya is a revelation that should inspire fanaticism. A progeny of the avant garde strained through highly experimental hip hop, thoroughly doused in neo-jazz meets math-rock, and set on fire with a casually tossed match of pop sensibility.

Christ.. This record doesn't even sound like it was written in this country, but I'm told he hails from Chicago. I can't believe I haven't heard more about this guy. A bit of research shows he's a mere twenty-eight year old, multi-instrumentalist with at least three full solo albums under his belt.

His hometown press likes to throw around the label of "Chicago's weirdest musician" when discussing his work, but I think that's shortsighted and lazy. Vocally he recalls to my ear WHY? frontman Yoni Wolf at times, merged with Zappa's fearless inventiveness while borrowing from afro-beat and funk. Seasoned liberally with a modern hip hop sensibility -- not the mumble rap trash, Ogbonnaya is a literate, if unconventional MC with solid lyricism going on, but the Zappa point is key -- This guy fucking shreds. I was beside myself watching his fretwork as he effortlessly shifts between multiple styles and time signatures within the span of a six minute song. The end result is highly erudite, impossibly layered sound smorgasbord with hardcore replay value. I grabbed his last full release on vinyl and haven't been able to stop listening to it since.

In glancing at the liner notes, I realize this was put out through Father/Daughter Records, which strikes a chord of memory somewhere.. Digging through my archives, I remember that Diet Cig, who headlined a LAVA Presents show back in December with Sammi Lanzetta, also calls this label home. If these two artists are any indication, I need to browse through the rest of their roster post haste.

Attendance on this was obviously hurt by the storm, and that's a damn shame. If you missed this, you missed a stunning show. I desperately hope Nnamdi doesn't think we can't handle what he's doing, and that he returns again on tour soon.

. . .

Also from Chicago -- Options provided solid opening support with a brand of indie rock that recalled Weezer to my ear. Virginia Beach's Carnival Bird kicked the evening off all off with respectable set -- I think I've caught them before at Charlies, maybe? I believe we'll be seeing one of the duo with the Berries for the upcoming Halloween show, where they'll be playing a set of Cure songs. I'm way too excited for this. =P

As usual, a good time was had by all. And then we went home.


Nnamdi Ogbonnaya.

Chicago. Experimental.


Chicago. Indie-Rock.

Carnival Bird

Virginia Beach. Electronica.

Words & pictures by Jeff Hewitt. These were shot on a 2005 Olympus E-500 with an adapted Leica manual focus zoom., a neat little piece of DSLR history with an early Kodak designed sensor. You can see more of Jeff's work at