Last week’s (November 18) Forro in the Dark show was easily the most funky, sexy, and entertaining show Santa Barbara has seen in a long time. Not that there was ever any doubt concerning the partying abilities of South Americans, but Wednesday more than proved just how much fun Brazilians can be.
The night opened with an un-billed, newly-formed band called Satori Alliance. Their lead singer wore a funky red dress and crooned updated folk hits from El Salvador and Bolivia, while a colorful band of musicians played a variety of instruments, some very untraditional, in the round.
Though the ever-lovely SOhO felt a little empty at first, as the opening band finished their set a diverse crowd trickled onto the dance floor. As Forro in the Dark’s pulsing Brazilian rhythms filled the small space, that diverse crowd instantly became a group of long lost friends: men in ties flayed their arms like silly neon-colored inflatable air dancers, hipsters and hippies bumped hips, and girls in tight corsets and flowing skirts danced circles around barefooted men.
Forro in the Dark sound like a super funky Brazilian street party, appropriate since the word forr³ describes the “hip-swiveling, dance floor-filling, rural party music of Brazil’s northeastern states.” These guys sound like nothing you’ve ever heard before (or at least nothing this writer had ever heard before). The only mainstream group that come anywhere near Forro’s distinctively blended sound is Vampire Weekend, but where those adorable Ivy Leaguers set American pop melodies to borrowed African beats, Forro in the Dark is pure authenticity. They exude sincerity and joy in the way they interact with each other and with the audience.
Partying ways and good looks aside, these guys seriously wowed. Drummer Mauro Refosco is a Wayne Coyne-look alike whose also currently at work on Thom Yorke’s latest project; percussionist Davi Vieria does a solid Michael Jackson impersonation when he’s not wreaking musical havoc; Jorge Continentino plays the flute like he doesn’t need oxygen; and Guilherme Monteiro, a highly-trained jazz musician, is more reserved than the others until he starts shredding on guitar.
If you missed the show, you missed out on a great party. But Forro in the Dark’s latest album, Light a Candle, came out about a month ago and definitely deserves a legal download. Or check out the super-cool single and video they did with David Byrne for their song “Asa Branca.” And if you find you simply cannot go on without a regular dosage of Forro’s fun and funky live show, move to New York and hit up their once a week residency at Nublu. This writer is currently packing her bags as she types.