Story by Gracie Roberts
Photos by Adam Hawes (from 9.7.2011)
In downtown Portland, last week, the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall was buzzing with fans anticipating the performance of famed loungetronica act Thievery Corporation. Nearing the end of their tour, the duo was excited to showcase their sixth album, Culture of Fear, in cities throughout the nation.
Thievery’s opening act was Los Amigos Invisibles, the multi-Grammy nominated jazz ensemble from Venezuela. As a band that has traveled to nearly 60 countries, the Schnitz was honored to have such a critically acclaimed group perform on its stage. Audience members of all ages didn’t hesitate to stand up and dance along with the Amigos’ catchy, energetic beats infused with Latin flavor. In addition to playing much of their own content, the men charmed the audience by playing a cover of Yoldanda Be Cool and Dcup’s “We Speak No Americano” and The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling.” Los Amigos Invisibles have been sharing their energy and talent with audiences since their beginnings in Caracas, Venezuela in 1991. With their blend of disco, acid jazz, and funk layered deliciously over Latin rhythms, Los Amigos are having no trouble breaking into new markets.
Along with their vast amount of equipment, a large velvet chair and a fainting couch were brought onstage for Thievery Corporation’s show. When the band’s horde of members and special guests were brought out for their first track, “Lebanese Blonde,” they appeared as more of a family than a musical group. Thievery’s set lasted for a total of two hours and thirty minutes, and the crowd was pulled into a downtempo trance that lasted the show’s entirety. Hits such as “Illumination,” “Sweet Tides,” and “The Numbers Game” charmed the audience, as well as material from Culture of Fear, including “Overstand,” performed by guest singer Ras Puma. Other guest performers featured at the Portland show include Persian singer LouLou, rapper Mr. Lif, and David Byrne from The Talking Heads.
Since banding together 16 years ago, Eric Hilton and Rob Garza have taken a DIY approach to their musical and cultural interests, which have led to the formation and success of their own record label, ESL Music. Hilton and Garza express much of their political views through their music, and Culture of Fear continues to address the social themes that Thievery Corporation has kept as a priority throughout their years of stardom--privacy, autonomy, social and economic justice, and the dangers of a Big Brother society.
Even after hours of the groovy, sedated trance the audience begged the band for more, and they returned onstage for a lengthy encore, taking the time to introduce each member in the Thievery family.
The audience at the Arlene Schnitzer bore witness to much more than a musical recital—the members of the Corporation share a bond that is much deeper than that. With their socially enlightened messages and unparalleled rhythms, Hilton and Garza have truly created a musical agent of change, an important voice in our lives and for our culture.
Thievery Corporation - Culture of Fear (Feat. Mr. Lif)
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