Let Me Entertain You: Os Mutantes @ World Cafe Live 10.5.09

Watching Os Mutantes perform more than thirty years after they technically ceased to exist, it’s clear that old habits die hard, if at all. Sure, by now it’s pretty much the solo venture of Sergio Dias (with some lyrical help from a handful of original collaborators), but the latest incarnation of Os Mutantes is remarkably and unsurprisingly entertaining. Not only was this night a celebration of the group’s legacy and impressive new album, but it was the first time they’ve played in the Philadelphia area. Ever.

Seeing as how this was the band’s Philadelphia debut, it’s only fitting that the setlist spanned their entire catalogue. Before introducing songs from the new album, Sergio and the band got the crowd into a frenzy with some signature tunes. “Tecnicolor” and “El Justiciero” both come from the raucous Jardim Electrico (1971), when the band began to drift more towards progressive rock. If you only know one Mutantes song, it’s probably “A Minha Menina,” from their debut, which followed those first two songs in the set. The mood then changed to a showcase of sorts, with Dias prefacing the new songs with a joking invitation for the audience to “boo if you don’t like them.” Of course, anyone who has already heard Haih… Or Amortecedor… knows that the new songs are definitely worthy to be included in the Mutantes canon. “Querida Querida,” the riffy, first proper song on Haih… brought down any doubts that the new material was any less than fantastic. Album standouts “Teclar” and “Baghdad Blues” followed before the band returned to some more classics.

In a live setting, both the old and new songs take on tremendous new life as Dias and the band show off their tremendous technical skills. Dias himself is a very impressive guitar player who, unlike most 57-year-olds, revels in noise and distortion during his solos. One particular effect pedal, first used that night during “Neurociência Do Amor,” caused his guitar to sound more like a machine gun than a musical instrument. Whether or not that was the intended effect is unclear, because the band was having too good a time to stop and adjust anything. On record, the Mutantes’ music isn’t always danceable, but the energy they exude onstage makes every song a winner. From the shifting forro shuffle of “2000 E Agarrum” to the Farfisa and falsetto bounce of “Top Top,” Os Mutantes never compromise melody or their own musical identity in the face of experimentalism. Sure, their music is weird, but it’s a very, very good kind of weird. If it took this long for Os Mutantes to reach such a wide audience, do them (and yourself) a favor and don’t wait another 35 years to go see them in concert.

Click the picture at the top of this post to see more of Os Mutantes in concert!


~ by E. on October 7, 2009.

One Response to “Let Me Entertain You: Os Mutantes @ World Cafe Live 10.5.09”

  1. Sérgio Dias of Os Mutantes on BrazilMax Radio
    Interview in English with the leader of the legendary Brazilian rock band
    Bill Hinchberger (host)
    Sérgio Dias recalls the early years of the legendary rock band, the groundbreaking Brazilian countercultural movement Tropicália, their battles with the censors of the military dictatorship, the recent revival of Os Mutantes, and more. Throughout the interview, Sérgio kept his guitar at hand, and he offers acoustic versions of some celebrated Mutantes songs, along a few surprises that give a nod to early influences like the Beatles and the Beach Boys.
    More information: http://www.brazilmax.com/news.cfm/tborigem/fe_music/id/20
    Listen now: http://www.brazilmax.com/brazilmax.cfm/id/17

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