Jermaine Bossier and Romeo Bougere of 79rs Gang Credit: Photos by Diwang Valdez

On Friday night I was up so late reading—making the best of my election-related insomnia—that when the networks started calling it for Biden around 10:30 the next morning, I was still asleep. Though I’d been spending a truly inadvisable amount of time on Twitter, I didn’t learn Trump had lost from the Internet. Instead I was woken up by crowds of people screaming for joy in the street, honking their car horns, and banging pots and pans. Someone across my building’s courtyard started blasting Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration” out the window.

In that spirit—specifically the spirit of making party music in the street—I’m sharing Expect the Unexpected, the recent second album by Mardi Gras Indian troupe 79rs Gang. Formed by two reconciled rivals, Big Chief Jermaine Bossier from the Seventh Ward Creole Hunters and Big Chief Romeo Bougere from the Ninth Ward Hunters, the group combines the parade chants and marching-band drums of the New Orleans second-line tradition with brash horns, propulsive rap-singing, and hip-hop-flavored electronic production by Eric Heigle of the Lost Bayou Ramblers. I’m embedding the song “Brand New Day” for what I hope are obvious reasons, but you should really click through and listen to the whole record.

And as an aside, the book I was reading was Elizabeth Bear’s Ancestral Night. Highly recommended if you like your gonzo space opera to come with warmth, humor, witty banter, emotional honesty, and zero-gravity shipboard cats.  v


The Listener is a weekly sampling of music Reader staffers love. Absolutely anything goes, and you can reach us at thelistener@chicagoreader.com.

Philip Montoro

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. Philip has played scrap metal in Lozenge, drummed with the Disasters, the Afflictions, and Brilliant Pebbles, and sung for the White Outs. He wrote the column Beer and Metal from 2012 till 2015, and hopes to do so again one day. You can also follow him on Twitter.