Sunday, July 15, 2007

Os Mutantes @ Stern Grove Festival, San Francisco, 15 July 2007

Os Mutantes @ Stern Grove Festival, San Francisco, 15 July 2007

Stern Grove is a natural amphitheater filled with eucalyptus tress. The festival happens all Summer and is free. Sometimes free is bad and when I got there with my young companion Stern Grove was full of hipsters who had read the Mutantes article in today’s New York Times. The marshals (who were only following orders) said it was in fact too full and made us walk all the way to the other end of the park to get in. Once inside we were able to access all areas so there wasn’t much point in that extra walk. As we found a place to sit on the dirt hillside we heard some of Los Amigos Invisibles who had a lot of supporters in the crowd.

My companion was concerned that she was the only child in the whole place and started a project to count the kids who were present. It was a classic San Francisco Summer day, in other words it was overcast and a bit muggy. It was very pleasant to sit in the dirt and watch people. There was a big cheer for the half time score from the Copa America.

By seeing a concert in a big arena by a reformed band who have mislaid a critical early member I was breaking all sorts of personal rules. Os Mutantes had a bunch of extra musicians filling out their ranks including a rather tasty percussionist. They started with a couple of numbers from the first two LPs. These are studio creations and it was weird to hear studio noises reproduced live. The band reminded me a lot of Brian Wilson’s current band which studiously aims to recreate studio sounds. After a while the band settled down to playing more conventional Latin tinged rock. There was mambo, there was cha cha cha. I tried to explain to my companion about the clave, but she was reading The Hobbit. After a while we left and walked home. I had a nice afternoon but I never would have guessed that this band were so highly regarded. Tomorrow I will listen to their wonderful old studio recordings.

Update: nice review of a concert in New York a few days later which also compares the band with Brian Wilson's ensemble.

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