April 19, 2011
@ The IndependentBetter than:
A sauna with a dress code
The scene on the floor of the Independent
as the minutes ticked away to the opening act was a shy ballet of courting and sparking between and among the sexes. Viewed from the balcony above it was all backpacks, baseball caps, and pale light from iPhones glowing on a God's Little Acre of carefully arranged cleavage. The last tickets were gone by the time we arrived just after eight, and the room rapidly crammed to capacity with young and horny clubkids looking midweek-overworked, but game and ready for anything.
muscled onto the stage at about nine, its 10 members looking
like the board of directors of a highly solvent ass-moving corporation -- and their hour-long set confirmed that impression. The first thing that happened was that ambient temperatures began to rise, and the second was a conspicuous shedding of clothes and impedimenta by the audience. Inhibitions followed as this half-platoon of local funkateer hip-hoppers gave it all they had. These guys are a welter of every dance music now going, honed to the dignity and polish of a '70s soul act. They smoothly ran a series of audience participation dodges already old when Jackie Wilson was doing them. They were seen off to rattling cheers and the crowd resumed getting friendly with
Winning raves at SXSW, Bonnaroo, and Bumbershoot, and now headlining a tour of both Americas, Bomba Estéreo
condenses rock, experimental, hip-hop, cumbia, electronica, Tropicália, the singularly agile and eerie keening of Liliana Saumet, and the audience into something that throbbed the balcony's rails. Heads bobbed like corks in front of the stage, and people began to get much looser on the fringes of the crowd. Most simply stood transfixed at Saumet's spry-footed energy and remarkably precise spitting of heavily reverbed Spanish syllables, while their hands explored for later advantage. The cover of Technotronic's 1989 hit "Pump Up the Jam" was particularly well-received, and the call for an encore was instantaneous and ear-splitting. At the very end, a backdropped Virgin and Child waved benediction over a passionate and peaceable throng as the band left the stage one by one and Saumet bade San Francisco goodnight.
One drink maximum: I'm a confirmed weedhead, but my photographer is an occasional tosspot and ordered a Cuba Libre -- the house special -- in honor of Fidel Castro. She pronounced it "tasty, but not strong."
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