Os Mutantes @ Webster Hall, NYC 7/24/06

Much like a few of you out there, we spent Friday lamenting our poor password choice and getting carpal tunnel, clicking the refresh button in ill-fated attempts for a fix of ‘gum. Our only solace was a night of dear, sweet show-hopping.

We started at Webster Hall where the legendary Os Mutantes played their first ever States side show — and one of their first concerts since 1973! The interest in this pioneering Brazilian pysch-rock outfit has continued to build, thanks to gushing high profile fans (Kurt Cobain, David Byrne et al), a formative role in the development of tropicalia, and a deep catalogue of quick-shifting, stirring pop and South American Laugh-In-on-acid moments. Though we had no Byrne sightings, we did come across Mr. Jeff Mangum, along with an assortment of Elephant 6 all-stars. Which was, ya know, okay by us.

The group seemed to savor the historic moment, infusing each trippy suite with the sort of power and polish found in the most rehearsed of bands. The night was a non-stop feast of Bossa rhythms, Santana solos and cunning songcraft. Original members (and brothers) Sergio Dias (guitars, vocals) and Arnaldo Baptista (keys, vocals) were joined by nearly-original drummer Dinho Lemhe and Rita Lee-replacement Zelia Duncan (vocals); the rest of the stage was full of percussionists, multi-instrumentalists and singers half their age, but well up to the task. So Brazilian! Made me wish I wore my Havianas.

The setlist was easy on the neophytes, drawing liberally from best-of comp Everything Is Possible! (“El Justiciero” > “Baby (1971)” was a highlight). But obscurities were abound as well, tickling the South American set pink. Don’t know what they were singing about through most of the show but, judging by a chunk of kids in the pit, it was probably “This song is awesome to get stoned to!” Though I suppose it doesn’t take a translater to figure that one out.

I’d say we kicked it with The Mutants for a bit after the show, but their English is just a bit better than Scott’s Portuguese (“Popozao, guys!”). Instead, we traded animated gestures and had them point and look slightly off camera.

Quick primer: these cuts appeared on Os Mutantes’ eponymous 1968 debut. (Spot The Beatles and summer-of-San Francisco love!) From there it was more drugs, more hits and more style-jumping weirdness.

Os Mutantes – “Bat Macumba” (MP3 Link Expired)
Os Mutantes – “Ave Genghis Khan” (MP3 Link Expired)

After the show we stole away to the Bowery for the sweet Swedish stylings of one Mr. Jens Lekman and his band of buxom beauties. Stay tuned for words and pics.

Os Mutantes remaining tour dates:
7/24 – San Francisco, Fillmore Auditorium
7/26 – Seattle, Moore Theatre
7/28 – Denver, Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
7/30 – Chicago, Pitchfork Music Festival

Tags: Os Mutantes