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Hammons Reviews: Thievery Corporation Still Keeps The Fans Dancing Under the Black Moon

By CRAIG HAMMONS

Thievery Corporation celebrates 20 years - Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

Thievery Corporation celebrates 20 years – Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

Thievery Corporation brought their hypnotic grooves, intricate rhythms and mystical funk to the Santa Barbara Bowl on this cool summer evening.  This is the 20-year anniversary of a band that continues to inspire with their broad canvas of styles and sounds.

Opening the show was Mexico City’s favorite band of muy loco rockers Café Tacuba.  These guys really know how to get the party started.  Lead singer Ruben Albarran and guitarist Jose Alfredo Rangel got the audience up and dancing to their various styles of espanol rock and roll.  The band’s flashy costumes and energy won over the early arrivals and set a festive tone for the evening.

As sun was setting and the black moon rising the anticipation was running high as most of the audience I talked to had seen Thievery Corporation before.  The lights dimmed and the familiar sounds of sitar, bass and percussion jammed out on the opening instrumental “Facing East.”

As the song ended out comes the first vocalist of the evening Lou Lou Ghelickhani singing “Take My Soul” a song with lush textures and sweet vocals.   The set had a caravan of rotating vocalist for each song.   Next up was Jamaican vocalist to get us fired up and grooving to songs such as “Blasting Through” and “Radio Retaliation.”   Before the song “Culture of Fear,” the vocalist said he was afraid of the police.  The opening line “seems to me like they want us to be afraid, man” touches on what is going on in our world today.

Set List of Crowd Favorites

Rob Myers rocked out on sitar - Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

Rob Myers rocked out on sitar – Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

Thievery Corporation has the mighty DJs Rob Garza and Eric Hilton sitting high above the band knocking out the beats mixing them with their many different cultural styles.  This tour being their 20 Anniversary had a set list full of crowd favorites and even a few covers.

About half way thru the set they did a version of Grateful Dead’s “Fire on the Mountain” and later the percussionist came forward to sing a rocking version of the Door’s “Strange Days.”

The quality of the musicianship and vocal power of all the singers highlight their vast changes in musical styles.  Ashish Vyas the bass player never stops moving while high stepping across every square inch of the stage.  Rob Myers the sitar / guitar player rocked hard on both instruments.  My favorite singer of the night was the mighty and majestic Natalia Clavier.  Her soft and sexy vocals styling on such songs as “Lebanese Blonde” draw you in to her seductive charm.

Rob Garza on Guitar

ruben-cafe-tacuba-california-rocker

Ruben Albarran of Cafe Tacuba – Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

They heated things up again with two live show staples “Vampires” and “Heart is the Hunter.”  They created such a bond with the audience we all forgot about out problems and were fully engaged with their rhythms, beats and intricate electronic music.  Rob Garza came down from his DJ booth to play guitar as they closed with “Warning Shots.”  Everyone was dancing to the heavy bass riff and rap reggae vocals.   Rob then stepped to the mic and said “we weren’t going to do this song” but he said he wrote it while he was roaming the hills above Santa Barbara and they went in to the sweet and sensual “Depth of My Soul.”

As this sweaty hippie groove party was about to end they came back out and jammed on the instrumental track “The Forgotten People” before bringing Lou Lou back to sing “Sweet Tides.”  But it would not be a Thievery Corporation show without doing “The Richest Man in Babylon” from there 2002 album of the same name.  After shaking my suitcase for two hours with this band of incredible musicians and the two beautiful songstresses I felt good to be alive.  A band of this caliber should not be ignored.  Every person there was a delighted fan or was converted by the sweet melody, atmosphere and vibe only Thievery Corporation can provide.

Abe Reviews: The Lumineers Light Up Santa Barbara Bowl With Their Elegant Style

Lumineers Photo © 2016 Abe Noorzay

Lumineers play the Santa Barbara Bowl (May 28, 2016) – Photo © 2016 Abe Noorzay

By ABE NOORZAY

On a cool Saturday night, during a much-needed three-day weekend, The Lumineers lit up the entire city of Santa Barbara.

The band that had been at No. 1 on the Billboard charts for 18 non-consecutive weeks with their hit single “Ho Hey,” was able to showcase their newest album, Cleopatra. The openers put on a stellar show for everyone and the sold out crowd was ready.

The night started early with a 6:30 p.m. performance from the first opener, Sleepwalkers.  The group hails from Richmond, Va., and had their own brand of California beach goth that I’m sure most of the crowd wasn’t expecting. Between the countless animated faces of guitarist/bassist Austin York and just the overall local-sounding tunes they had, the band was incredibly enjoyable to watch.

Lumineers by Abe Noorzay

Lumineers – Jeremiah Fraites (bass, drum, tambourine), Wesley Schultz (guitar) – Photo © 2016 Abe Noorzay

SOAK: Amazing Treat

The skies started to change colors and up next was SOAK. She got on stage with her band and she just looked like this awkward kid on stage with her guitar and bright, buttoned shirt, then she started playing. The entire crowd stopped what they were doing and they just listened. Her music sounded like what the ocean feels like and her voice had a dark undertone that led perfectly into the new sound The Lumineers went for in Cleopatra. 

After that riveting performance, the crowd was beyond ready to see the main event. Couples were swing dancing in the pit to The Plank by The Devil Makes Three and everyone was just having fun.

As the night faded to black, the curtains fell and the stage lit up.

The Lumineers

First to come on stage was drummer Jeremiah Fraites with his signature white T-shirt and suspenders along with the fedora.

As the crowd roars, he walked to his kit, set his drink down, and hit the bass drum rhythmically as the others walked on the stage as well. The crowd got even louder. Frontman Wesley Schultz picked up his guitar and they opened with the intro to their new album, Sleep on the Floor.

Halfway through the show, the Lumineers picked up their instruments and made their way to the middle of the crowd and played a couple of songs with all their fans surrounding them.

Opener SOAK - Photo © 2016 Abe Noorzay

Opener SOAK – Photo © 2016 Abe Noorzay

While there, they also covered the famous Bob Dylan track, “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” and did it in a way where they turned it into a Lumineers song. They absolutely owned it.

They finished off the night with “Stubborn Love” and the crowd sang along so beautifully. You could look around and see people crying their eyes out, singing along and just staring at the sky.

The Lumineers put on a different kind of show. They take the simplicity of their original folk sound and add a certain elegance with their making of Cleopatra that just can’t be obtained by their contemporaries.

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