I didn’t know much about Los Amigos Invisibles except that they had become famous in the US in the late 90s thanks to David Byrne, and I caught their set at Taste of South Lake in Pasadena, a culinary celebration festival spiced up with live music… It’s funny because I haven’t heard much about the band from Venezuela band since that time, despite the fact that they have released some damn breezy catchy songs such as the neo Latin soul ‘La Que Me Gusta’, and many albums,… so why hasn’t Pitchfork reviewed any of their LPs since their 2004 ‘The Venezuelan Zinga Son, Vol.1’? Call this snobbism – they are no longer on Byrne’s label – but they should not care at all since they have received a Grammy nomination in the category of ‘Best Latin Alternative Album’ and a Latin Grammy in the category of ‘Best Alternative Album’, ‘Song of the year’ and ‘Best Cover’ for their 2013 album, ‘Repeat After Me’, and I have to add it wasn’t their first time.
At Pasadena, they played a long and fun gig for the greatest pleasure of the crowd. Their sound is distinct and familiar at the same time, a mix of disco-funk-dance rhythms, totally infectious, giving to the scene a very festive ambiance, that could even go all Brazilian carnival at times. Soon, it was a fusion of sounds, with many sing-along choruses and people were dancing, jumping as if they were still attending one of these summer night concerts… Are we in October? Not that it matters in Los Angeles, it is always sunny but I would not have been able to tell the season as the atmosphere had suddenly turned very tropical!
And when I say dance, there was no question of EDM here, it was all about funky bass lines, going funkier and funkier with a double keyboard, smooth disco and grooves that the sextet were stretching with a nice place for guitar, tambourine and bongos; it was lively, upbeat, and totally danceable, the kind of music that never ends and doesn’t care for any stop between the songs, the kind of songs that starts a line and a riff from famous rock songs (such as Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’, or INXS’ ‘Need You Tonight’) sounding like a tease for a cover that doesn’t happen. People around me were totally knowing all the lyrics, but my Spanish is not good enough to have followed, but I have to say that singer Julio Briceño used a little of French at one point, singing ‘Je ne comprends pas’… He had a great presence, playfully interacting with the crowd, wrapping himself with a Venezuelan flag… sometimes, the tunes had some lounge-jazz vibe, or even a music-you-can-play-on-a-cruise feeling, but who cares as long as it was festive and making people happy. A song, that they announced as a cover was very Afro-Latino with Brazilian drums and another one sounded like a Cumbia to me… Los Amigos Invisibles didn’t want to stop playing, people asked for an encore and they gave it to them. It was getting very sweaty, as it was still close to 87F in Pasadena, and we were in the middle of summer all over again.
Yo No Se – C + C Music
Ultrafunk – Queen
Vivire Para Ti
La Vecina –INXS
La Que Me Gusta
All day Today – jamming
Plus an encore
More pictures of the show here.
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