Thievery Corporation at House of Blues, 5/1/2014
It's always a treat to be in the same room as a world-class band; one that, no matter what part of the globe you're in, is welcomed with open arms. Thievery Corporation are just that. They are the definition of world music. They bring something that no other band can or ever will bring to the table, which has kept them going strong as a group for many, many years.
While they're usually the perfect festival band, Thursday the Washington D.C. group brought their wares to the big stage at House of Blues. With a host of different singers and a solid backing band, the duo's two-hour show was a nonstop dance party.
Thievery Corporation have the ability to keep you enthralled throughout the set, not only be their quality of play, but by changing their sound from song to song. They go from hip-hop to reggae to calypso to funk to rock to French-pop to bossa nova, and that's within the first seven songs. With a bevy of vocalists, the switch happens as soon as one leaves and another takes his or her place.
One sensual singer who looked like Catherine Keener was replaced by a rapper before he was replaced by a New Wave singer before two Caribbean islanders came out and brought the reggaeton with them. The original duo of Eric Hilton and Rob Garza traded licks between the guitar and the DJ booth while regular bassist Ashish "Hash" Vyas stalked the stage in circles throughout the night. Even when a singer wasn't center stage, the core band had no problem vibrating the room.
They started early and played late, with the best of their storied discography to the stage but a heavy dose of latest effort Saudade. Hilton and Garza met in the '90s due to their mutual interest in the bossa nova genre. While their first recording reflected that, they eventually moved on, but now nearly 20 years into their career as a band, have stepped back to the genre that originally brought them together, and put out a record again inpired by bossa nova.
Although I haven't heard Saudade, the new songs played over the course of the show were not nearly as dancey and fun as the rest of the songs in set, but you could tell that the band highly enjoyed performing the new material. The crowd seemed to eat it up, too. Every time a certain female singer (sorry, there were so many that it was hard to keep track of their names) made it to the stage, you knew it was time for more bossa nova.
And that's when the crowd switched from arm-waving and jumping around to doing the salsa and the tango. It went from a frat party into a sensual soiree all within minutes, all thanks to Thievery Corporation's ever-rotating genres.
Review continues on the next page.