I Went To See A Band...


Tuesday was the last La grande of the season. It will start up again sometime in February, so we will get to see a few more while we are here in South America this time.
La grande is a big band- the big band of Santiago Vazquez, composer, drummer, bandleader, and inventor of a directing sign language for rhythm. There is a core octet of amazing musicians, and then, during the course of the evening, a wide range of other musicians sit in for a song or two, sometimes ending up with as many as 16 people on stage.
This evening, however, Juana Molina came on stage after the first song, and pretty much didnt leave for the next two hours. She has been jamming with these guys for a long time- at least 6 or 7 years, and, with some of the individual musicians, even longer.
Her style lends itself to scat singing and improvising with a jazz band, so she fits right in anyway, and, on some songs, she slid to the back and played percussion on a cymbal.
This is a euphoric band to watch- they are all so skilled, and have so much fun together. Juana was done up rather regally, with a fancy hairdo, glitter makeup, and a sort of deconstructed japanese look to her clothes.
She sang with the band for the whole first set, a bit over an hour, then, after the break, sang or played with all the other guest performers, which included a half dozen different vocalists, a half dozen different drummers, a violinist, a guest horn player, and various guitar and bass players as well.
When we first started going to this every tuesday night, 4 or 5 years ago, it was spacious, the dance floor maybe half full. But these days, it gets pretty packed, as word has gotten out about the incredible range of guest performers, some pretty famous, who might drop in. Plus, its fun, informal, relatively inexpensive, friendly, with good food and drinks, ping pong and fooseball in the back, and a crowd that is widely distributed in age and genre- old rockers, jazz singers, rappers, cumbia, folklorico, and everybody else.
The great beatboxer Milo Moya sat in for a few songs tonight, and Pato Smink Djed and played his handsonic drums as well. Nobody wanted to leave- after the band ended there set, the DJ's kept the dancefloor full.


I had a bit of a cold over the holiday, and so I missed a bunch of great shows.
On thursday before Christmas, however, I did go see Dat Garcia at CC Recoleta.
It could have been, should have been, a very interesting show, as she had been preparing a multimedia extravaganza, but, unfortunately, it rained.
There was a cotton candy machine, matching costumes for 4 of her performers, a tinfoil volcano, outdoor lighting in the little patio, projections, rope lighting, a reader board with text meant to respond to song lyrics, and Dat herself had a special costume made as well.
The show started serenely enough with DJ Mica Towers mixing up cumbia and electronic beats into a long seamless set that bounced and slid all around. But it began to drizzle, and the crew had to rearrange the equipment, draping plastic bags over the PA, and setting up Garcia's control desk under the tent that housed the mixing board, turning the venue backwards, so the audience had the speakers behind them and the action was all crammed into a tiny tent. Impossible to tell how much choreography, performance, and interactions we missed due to the unwanted editing the storm required.

Dat persevered, however, and did a set with a lot of songs from her new album, with prerecorded backing tracks, layering in live instruments she played, and singing all the vocal parts live. The audience huddled in doorways, under a few umbrellas, or put plastic bags on their heads, and listened in the rain.
It was kind of zen, but I got wetter and wetter, until, right at the end of the set, the skies completely opened up and it just poured.

The new album is nice, though. Space age feminist psychedelic electronic dreamy folklorica



And there are already remixes on soundcloud, by a bunch of different people, which I like a lot, like this Sidirum remix.


The 30th, we went to Caras y Caretas, which is a very classy, nice theater, with reserved seating, great acoustics, and nice sightlines, to see the current sensation among the youngsters- Luca Bocci. I had watched some of his vids on youtube, and liked his sort of punk rock meets folksinger, loose presentations. He is from Mendoza, where there is a big underground scene, but practically no venues to play in. He had been in punk bands, was, of course, classically trained, and then, this last year, released a record of more soulful conventional crooning- which produced several radio hits. Unfortunately for my twisted tastes, he, and his impeccable band, was playing mostly the radio hits, and the teenage girls in the audience were swooning. He is very cute, in a non-threatening street kid androgynous way, and plays guitar and sings very nicely.
I wanted to see more of his Larry Clark/tulsa side, where he was half Replacements and half Kurt Cobain, but it was not to be. Too syrupy for me, but the basically sold out house loved it. A few times, the band cut loose, and you could see the potential for mayhem, but he would rein it in.
He definitely has that rock star charisma.

Here he is being cute.

I actually liked the opening act better- a band from Castellar called Fonso. Great guitar work, unexpected combinations, drum machine and soulful singing, with lots of looping and the odd found sounds. It was funky and interesting and came at you from directions you werent looking.
A recent review called them- Es una mezcla entre Gorillaz y peronistaz. Melancólica y esperanzadora. Which is about right.


I have been to a lot of concerts in my life, since my first one, in 1966. But a couple of Saturdays ago I saw one of the most memorable ones.
It was at a typical little Buenos Aires club, El Emergente, which is on a standard house lot, so its only about 10 meters wide, and probably holds 200 or so people.
The show began with Marina Fages- I have seen her play live many times since 2012 or so. She began with her power trio, with the excellent drummer Ceci Grammatico and bassist Nathy Cabrera. They have been playing together a lot in the last year, and are very much in sync. Punk/rock.

But it quickly became obvious that this night would not be discrete bands, but a constant changing cast of players- as Fernando Kabusacki came on as second guitar for a few songs. I have probably seen Kabusacki close to ten times, and, each time, he is a different guitar player. His range is amazing- jazz, rock, folklorico, experimental, improv, he can and does play anything. Here, he was full on guitar hero, with lightning fast leads and rock and roll overdrive. Then, there was a drummer change- Fernando Samalea sat in for a couple of songs. Marina has been playing for a while with both Fernandos, and has a very easy musical interchange with both. This set was her songs, with her on vocals, but with at least 3 very different bands.

After a brief break, the curtain came up on Yoshitakei Expe alone on a chair, with his classic Spectrum 5 guitar and a floorfull of effects pedals. He is one of those guitar players that weave all kinds of genres together into a trance inducing spell. While he doesnt sound like them, he reminds me of Sandy Bull, John Mclaughlin, Marc Ribot, Bill Frissell, and with a bit of Boredoms and Acid Mothers thrown in.
He loops layers and layers of beats, riffs, leads and melody, until the first ones are lost in the haze of successive lines, filling the entire room with a thick haze of guitar. Or, not-guitar, since the Spectrum is so full of built in effects and pickup combos and whammy bar and run thru a variety of pedals, so it sounds like a dozen different instruments.

He plays a set of an hour or so, which fades in and out a couple of times, but is basically one “song”. He leaves the audience dazed and transported. Which is an accomplishment, because this is a pretty knowledgable audience, lots of record collectors, musicians, and guys who have seen a 1000 bands there, including various Rock Nacional stars from the past.

The curtain closes, there is a brief intermission, and when it opens, Expe is there again, seated on his chair, wearing his global hippie finery (Japanese hippies have the best looks- they rock tibetan/thai/ramones/carnabystreet vibes with insouciance). He begins to generate some sound, quietly, and one by one, more instruments sidle up and add their voices.
Kabusacki on guitar, tentatively and tastefully dipping in.
Samalea on drums, beginning almost inaudibly, but, of course, building to effortless power before long.
The Frenov brothers- Cesar on 5 string bass, stretching out, and Alejandro on keyboards. Both are veterans of a thousand casuals, backing bands, and sessions. They begin dancing around every style of music, a group of incredible musicians jamming, improvising, bouncing ideas off each other, going places none of them expected.
Marina comes on stage periodically, sometimes just adding vocals, jazz/punk/scat punctuations, sometimes picking up her telecaster and making it 3 guitars. Grammitco swaps seats with Samalea a couple of times, completely holding her own with the band, at one point pretty much everyone leaves but her and Expe, and they volley back and forth, with Cece adding some vocals, getting wide grins out of Expe, who is usually lost in his own trance on stage.
Here is Yoshitake building similar webs of music in the air, with only a drummer. Imagine, if you will, what happens when you add 4 very experienced musicans.

Yoshitake is coming back to BA around Mid March- He is in Paraguay now, headed for Peru and Chile after that, but probably around the 25th, he will be back, well worth going to see, he is transportative, and, no doubt, various people will sit in with him.


Trying to catch up a bit on my posts.
Of course, I have been going to see music.
I have just been slack in my writing.
I have been loving the new La Tangente in Palermo- its a very adult and comfortable place to see music, and the booking has been great. The space is always nice and cool on hot summer nights, the bartenders are cool, drinks are not too expensive, and the space is sort of Star Trek psychedelic, with thousands of tiny lights in grids on the ceiling and walls of the dark room. The sound system is good, I can hear the bands, and they enforce no smoking, which not all clubs in BA do.
We went to see the latest version of Entre Rios there on the 25th of January.
The band has been around since 2000, with the latest version featuring Lolo Gasparini on vocals, with the founder Sebastian Carreras on Synths, along with Javier Medialdea on drums and synths.
It has a very dreamy New Order/ 4AD sound, and live, its very dramatic and Lolo creates an atmosphere with her vocals that levitates you. The presentation of this band is always very considered and dramatic as well. In this space, the lighting was a fan of bars of light, a Rei Kawakubo pleated dress rendered in flashing space, with, of course, the obligatory fog machine- fog machines are ubiquitous in Buenos Aires. You could only make out the band as static-y figures on stage, never quite resolving into actual humans. But the music filled the room like sentient fog, rising up from the floor and embracing you.
It was magic.

a song from the most recent album- you get the sound, but not the ambience, of seeing them live.

I will be going back on the 15th to see Daniel Melero, and most likely, on the 17th to see Plantasia, which is a group of local and international DJs. Both should be good shows, although very different.


Hey Ries. I enjoy reading about the bands that you saw but a request. What do you think about a one line head's up when you hear about a good concert?



I would recommend going to the free outdoor concert coming up on the saturday 17th, on the grounds of a beautiful old building in Vincente Lopez. its from 4 to midnight, so you can go early, and there are lots of great bands playing. The 152 collectivo goes up Santa Fe/ Cabilido to within a few blocks of it, its just a bit past the city limit.

La Grande at Santos Dumont 4040 is opening again on the 13th and the 15th, and the 20th and 22nd. Its always good, and early- starts at a nominal 7:30.

Also on the 17th, Orquestra Fernandez Fierro is playing at Xirgu, the beautiful old theater inside the Catalan Club on Chacabuco in San Telmo. That will be great, modern folk/tango.

the slovak singer Ivana Mer is coming to La Tangente this week, Sunday the 11th, with Luvi Torres opening. That will be a great show, 2 female vocalists with unusual directions, and also violinist Gato Urbanski. https://soundcloud.com/ivanamer I think you would like that show, and La Tangente is a very civilized place to see music, not like some of the dives I go to.

this time of year, there are multiple options most nights. Its hard to choose.