Ever politically charged and lounge-ready, Eric Hilton and Rob Garza brought their electronica lounge act, Thievery Corporation to The Fillmore Miami Beach Jackie Gleason Theater this weekend. Though the group has managed to keep out of the major record label circle, they’ve worked up a sizable fan base — mostly in part to their frequent appearances at major festivals (e.g. Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Langerado).
Apart from promoting their new release, Radio Retaliation, their Miami Fillmore show was part of the (RED)NIGHTS series of concerts. Yes, its the same (RED) that stormed Gap stores round the world years ago. Its no surprise that Thievery Corporation would jump onto the (RED) train of shows; they are known for their being outspoken about political wrongdoing and supporting good will causes. More importantly (or less, depending on your priorities), they maintain an immaculate balance in their music that keeps them from crossing the line from artistically free to pedantically preachy.
Thieverys balance extends past its lyrical content, however. If you thought you had defined their sound in your head, allow me to ask you to toss that definition aside. A lounge act is what you call them when you want to make it easy. A two and a half-hour long dance party is what you call them when you actually see them live. Hilton, Garza, and company are a full band, and for this show, they were complete with two percussionists, a bassist, guitar and sitar, and an array of multicultural vocalists.
Throughout the performance, they introduced dub style rhythms to some of their popular songs; early in the show it was Until The Morning, which sounded magnificent with that reggae beat. After about five or six songs, what seemed like an extremely short 30 minutes, the entire ensemble walked offstage, and theres no other way to put it: The crowd went ballistic. There was screaming for a surprisingly long period of time, escalating with every second until feedback appeared to be coming from the audience. As soon as the group took back the stage, a sheet of elation enveloped the crowd, and out came the original version of Lebanese Blonde, along with a number of tracks from the new album.
For Hare Krishna, the audience chorused along to a la-re-la melody, only pumping the quaint auditorium with more ecstasy. There was a total of about four encore sets. Just when we thought the show was over and our vocal chords were raw and ripped, the Corporation threw roughly 5 more cuts into our ears. The big, epic climax was vocalist Natalias rendition of El Pueblo Unido, another slice off of Radio Retaliation. Belting it out in front of images of Ernesto Che Guevara and South American riots, she really rocked the house on that one. Seeing as how its a song about the people sticking together and bringing a nation forward, I thought it was quite fitting for the day Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize — mixed feelings aside, of course.
Here’s the lowdown: Thievery Corporation came, swayed us with their seductive, serpentine ballads and beats, got us doing fist-pumps in the air to the songs of revolution, and they leftafter pretending to leave about four times before that. But rest assured, we were primed for a fifth.