Brazilian Funk Affair @ the Basement, Sydney (28/11/09)
Wed 2nd Dec, 2009 Event Reviews 1050 viewsin
A sultry summer’s day calls for a summer’s night of sultry music, and when the theme is Brazilian, you really shouldn’t need too much prodding to get your sultry on. Sydney provided the weather, and Russ Dewbury and Man about Town curated the music, for a superb night of infectiously sultry music at the Basement for the second installment of the Brazilian Funk Affair.
The musical theme for the night took its cues from the Black Rio movement of the 1960s and 1970s, when the soul and funk influences which were percolating their way down joined up with Brazilian samba rhythms to create a style of music which gave a voice to the young and the oppressed. By contrast, the crowd at the Basement looked anything but oppressed (and there were quite a few of them older than your humble correspondent, a quality which your correspondent values more and more as the years pass) but what was transplanted was the buzz, the enthusiasm; the Basement was filling very early and you could sense that people knew that this was going to be the place to be.
Arriving early was made an even more rewarding choice by the excellent warm-up set from Man about Town. It’s always pleasing to be reminded just what an art there is to a good warm-up set by hearing one, and Man about Town built things up beautifully. There was some Azymuth, a dash of Mo’Horizons, and Stereo Maracanã’s Freestyle Love in there, but it seems almost unfair to pick apart what really was one gem after another.
I could see the dancefloor filling up, and I noticed that many of those on the floor seemed to be packing percussion (as well as keeping the straw pork pie hat industry safe from the global recession). It was time for the first set from the Samba Frog Batacuda bateria, or percussion ensemble – they would swell to twenty or so later in the night – we had a “mere” dozen for the first set. I had picked a good night to wear a T-short emblazoned with the words “Give the drummer some” – the drummers gave it their all, and being right on the dancefloor with them provided an opportunity to feel the rhythms as much as hear them. Batacuda is about fast, percussive rhythms, and the Samba Frog crew got the feet that had been tapping into motion, quick smart.
Russ Dewbury was up next and continued in the samba soul vein, setting the stage nicely for the I Like It Like That! Orchestra, playing tonight in Brazilian rather than boogaloo mode. The Orchestra packs a solid horn line (you really have a to hear a bass trombone to be reminded how much extra low end goodness it gives you) and tonight featured vocalists Eddie Do Brasil, Miriam Waks (known for appearances with hip-hoppers such as Spit Sydnicate and Coptic Soldier, and equally as comfortable tonight with the Orchestra) and Tiago Do Valle. The Orchestra haled the energy in the room so well that there was only one thing for Russ Dewbury to play when he retook the decks – drum’n’bass, including the dancefloor-destroying Drumagick mix of the Mitchell & Dewbury Band’s Beyond the Rain.
However, the night was not yet over, for Samba Frog had another set in store, and they began to assemble on stage, including an exceptionally well-put together young lady wearing shin pads (the importance of which became apparent when she picked up the long drum she was playing, the end of which propped against her shins). You have to give credit to percussionists who are so into their art that they need personal protective equipment to give it their all, and once again, Samba Frog left nothing in the tank, wringing every last drop of remaining energy out of themselves and out of the dance floor.
Man about Town brought things home, and it was only the fact that dancing to Samba Frog had consumed all my remaining energy that meant that I was not able to stay with his selections until closing. Russ Dewbury and Man about Town showed once again what a great venue the Basement is when you put the right music in it – if you’ve not checked out one of these nights yet, grab your dancing shoes and get to it!