Old Rope is currently grooving in Brazil. Long time listener, first time caller. Love the show. Needless to say I’m having a blast on the reader’s behalf.
First stop was Fortaleza in the north east where I did the honourable and patriotic thing for a man of my birth: I cooked myself on a beach until I was as pink as a prawn peddled out of baskets along the sand by men of questionable culinary skills. The lovely warm Atlantic and the blasted ‘maresia’ salty sea air did it for me.
On the brink of a serious skin condition I headed for Rio to hang with Justino and Dilene. There I sank several skinfuls of craft beer and met an enormous granite hippy who wanted a hug. A recent poll claimed that 30 percent of cariocas have been caught in crossfire between police and gangs, but thankfully my time there was peaceful and friendly. (Justino did have an app with live updates about where shootings had occurred, which was helpful but bleak).
Which brings us nicely to São Paolo and the day before the fractious and much anticipated presidential election. Fresh off another plane, I found myself at Fora da Casinha (‘out of the little house’), an all-dayer with underground Paulista bands and DJs. The event was curated by the gang at Casa do Mancha – a cool gig venue in a hip part of the Pinheiros neighbourhood. Casa do Mancha is the actual house of the eponymous Mancha, who turned his gaff into a place for bands to play and people to hang out. Every so often they throw a big bash ‘outside’ the house at different venues, hence the name.
After the council revoked the licence of the original venue at the last minute on Thursday night (due to some weird electoral law) the crew scrambled to find an alternative and, amazingly, found two within twenty-four hours, splitting the event across Void in the day and Z Carniceria in the night.
The latter is where yours truly washed up, tired but enthused to see what all the fuss was about. There was a buzz about the place and #elenão stickers, protesting the neo-fascist wannabe dictator Jair Bolsonaro, were in abundance.
Z Carniceria (as the name would suggest) used to be a butchers and the stage has the appearance of a red barn, the front of which lifts to reveal what looks like a British pub function room. Apologies to the bands I missed and I cannae talk about everyone I saw cos it was a looong night.
First up for me was Juliano Gauche. His awkward oversized suit jacket was soon cast aside, taking him down to a less than charming white vest, but he had the gangly charm and frontman chic of other unlikely stars like Cocker or Cope. The music was stripped back and lean, all drums and the odd guitar stab. Like the suit, there was an 80s feel, typified in ‘pedaço de mim’ * with its refrain of “vá e não volte mais” (go and don’t come back) which tonight could well be aimed at Bolsonaro and his homophobic, racist ilk. The author’s intentions obviously aren’t known to me, but the song includes the line “eu tenho tanto medo dos homens que falam em nome de deus” (I am so afraid of men who speak in the name of god). If the boot fits, Bolonaro…
Next up was Laura Lavieri, probably my fave of those I caught tonight. Backed only by a keyboard player grinning like a Cheshire cat, her sound filled the hall. Gosh that gal can wail. Her powerful voice rode the waves of funky, jazzy rhythms coming from the pianist, who seemed to be having a whale of a time. Stand out track to Old Rope’s ears was Respeito (Respect). It’s poppy and upbeat, like an 80s version of a Motown tune (in a good way! Honestly!) and an ode to working together for a better world. It’s bloody brilliant and a belter.
(listen to it as you read)
“E juntos, poderemos viver melhor / juntos poderemos amar melhor / juntos poderemos crescer melhor / juntos / E juntos poderemos dançar – melhor juntos poderemos gozar – melhor juntos poderemos cantar – melhor juntos / Respeito!”
(And together, we can live better together / We can love better together / We can grow better together / And together we can dance – better together we can enjoy – better together we can sing – better together… Respect!).
In a country where the future looks bleak, poised to elect a former army officer and fan of torture, this is a rallying cry for those who stand opposed to everything he represents.
YMA meanwhile have a smooth and washed out feel, laid back, with hints of the Cardigans on the breezier English tracks and something darker on the Portuguese ones. It’s sultry and sensual and the best thing about them is the singer is wearing a big shiny coat. As rock ‘n’ roll demands.
Dingo Bells give us good time indie pop, all harmonies and jangling guitars and driven by an exuberant drummer/singer (you’ll get a good feel in the video for Eu Vim Passear).
Strobo normally are an instrumental duo with drums, guitar, synths and samples all mixed up in a merry-go-round and wearing big coats (everyone is wearing big coats at this gig!). Tonight they are joined by Keila, who gives them a new lease of life, making the stage her own and looking every bit a star. Garotas Suecas give us a pinch of psyche mixed with a little latin, a smattering of sixties laid out on a rump of rock. Ozu are just what we need at a million o’clock, eyes drooping and feet tiring. Mellow, trip-hoppy and with a barely audible DJ who reminds me of Top of The Pops in the nineties.
Throughout the night the tunes keep coming between the millions of bands courtesy of hip bloggers Joyce (Cansei do Mainstream, also in a massive coat) and the thoroughly charming Rafa (Hits Perdidos).
Despite the tensions about the impending elections there is an upbeat and defiant tone to the whole shebang. By the time Old Rope floats out into the dawn and a metropolis that is stirring from its Saturday slumber, I’m feeling more positive about the future of Brazil and excited by my (comprehensive) induction into its musical underground. Fortazleza and Rio gave any city that followed them a lot to live up to. But São Paolo has come out fighting and Casa do Mancha gets my vote.
*Portuguese song titles don’t seem to capitalise.
If you speak Portuguese you can read and watch Hits Perdidos asking the artists what future they want to see in Brazil here.