Who is William Onyeabor?

A few weeks back I was at Rock Bar and this song came on, this subtle, weird, trippy, really long song. It went really well with my drink, so after a while I shazammed it. “Atomic Bomb” by William Onyeabor it was. I looked it up on Spotify the next day and listened to it over and over for many days in a row.

About 2 weeks later, I was planning a trip to Australia, looking up stuff to do in Sydney, and lo and behold on the weekend I’m meant to be there, there’s an event on as part of the annual Sydney Festival called “Atomic Bomb: The Music of William Onyeabor,” and it’s billed as starring members of LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip and the Rapture, as well as Money Mark, jazz legend Pharoah Sanders and contemporary Aussie legend (and Tenderloin legend and Mission legend) Gotye. So I booked tickets.

It happened this past Saturday night and it blew my mind. A huge all-star band playing the songs of this near-forgotten dude from the past that from the sounds of it made most all his music on early synthesizers. And it ruled. It was the best concert I’ve seen all year. (Even better than Tonstartssbandht!)


  1. Listen to the music of William Onyeabor.
  2. Try to see this group if they come around. They’re being billed as “Atomic Bomb Band” or “Atomic Bomb: Who Is William Onyeabor?” or maybe other variations. I hear they’re playing Bonnaroo.
  3. As we’ve said again and again, pay attention to the music at Rock Bar.

9 Responses to “Who is William Onyeabor?”

  1. Simon says:

    They played the Warfield last May, so not sure if and when they’ll be back around to San Francisco again…

  2. R says:

    It’s a David Byrne project.

  3. kiya says:

    That same William Onyeabor all star band played at the Warfield last summer, it was an amazing show!

  4. seth says:

    yes, the Atomic Bomb concert at the Warfield in may was amazing, one of the best shows I went to in 2014. great to see a legend like David Byrne again and the rest of the artists on the bill delivered. Onyeabor’s music is relentlessly awesome and his back story is interesting. take a look at the New Yorker article about him from last year.

  5. wha says:

    The best concert you’ve seen all 20 days of this year? Stop the presses!

  6. Schlomo says:

    The Warfield show was a cavalcade of STARS!! It was really really good.

  7. Haggie says:

    I prefer “Body and Soul” to “Atomic Bomb”.

  8. crankymccrankerstons says:

    has the rock bar reshuffled the juke box recently? just curious since it seems like it’s the same selections as when they opened (some years ago), which isn’t a bad thing cause the music is very good, but variety is also nice…