Generally speaking, it seems that bands aim to transport their audiences to alternate universes or spacial realms through their music, to transport them anywhere but here on this planet. It is very rare for music to induce a journey around the world, around people’s minds and cultures, in a little over an hour and a half. On October 2 at the Fox Theater, Thievery Corporation took us to parts of the world offered to few but promised to all that witness this band.
For those of you who do not know much about Thievery Corporation, the most important aspect to remember is that the band spans beyond the iconic DJ duo of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton. These influential DJs set the mood and establish the idiosyncratic beats of Thievery Corporation, but the soul and spirit is attributed to the band’s flawless musicians.
Their touring guitarist/sitarist Rob Myers epitomized the band-audience connection. His ecstatic and enthusiastic performance permeated every song. On guitar, he played beautiful tunes and bluesy weeps, as if he were marrying the audience with his instrument, and on sitar, he evoked an entire country with every note, bending the air. With a juvenile smirk and radioactive excitement, Myers raced around, shouting, screaming, and letting his body go with the rhythm of his own guitar; every hammer on and every bend sent even his own body into rigorous submission. If there could ever be an argument against human dominion, it would be the sheer fact that we are still slaves to music.
Having said that, it was Ashish Vyas who made us feel part of this planet. As a touring bassist, he nailed it. It might seem like a random observation, but the feature which symbolized the down-to-earth vibe of Thievery Corporation was Ashish Vyas’ bare feet. Stomping onstage with a wicked groove, Vyas was the soul of Thievery Corporation. Constantly in resonance, his movements gave off a tribal feel with almost predictable patterns. He was the earthly element to this experience. His deep bass lines followed by his stomping pulled the audience down from wherever they had been taken, and placed them somewhere on this earth.
The coup de foudre was the band’s plethora of touring vocalists. Thievery Corporation brings every vocal live with a body rather than playbacks or audio deceptions. Once one song finished, another singer would run on stage and bring the crowd new experiences. From bossa nova to reggaeton, every voice was there. Some songs lacked energy, but “Amerimacka” picked us up and dropped us off at the groove bar on a tropical island. The band became one entity for this song, a monolith of a performance.
Our only complaint is the lack of artistic backgrounds or lighting which we believe could have added a more artistic feel to the show. Don’t get us wrong — the music itself was enough to mark this concert as an aesthetic memoir, but some added cultural artwork would have turned this gig into a spiritual experience. For a band which sounds like it can offer Pollock-worthy visuals, all we got was lighting on a stagnant background.
The one immutable fact of the show was that Thievery Corporation tamed the crowd and showed us what they wanted with a perfect balance of upbeat songs and lyrical lullabies. Our emotional wavelengths vacillated with the band’s agile attacca playing and the experience felt more like meditation, rather than an obsession with what was going on on stage; we found ourselves dancing and jiggling regardless. We transformed from humans to musical notes that night, and we’re sure that if we had been onstage, we would’ve seen a sea of bodies flailing with corporeal emancipation and musical realization.
Article by Nikos Zarikos