Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Experience Brasil Live: Tuesday nights at Village Underground

Often when I go see Brazilian music in New York City, I can feel transported, like I'm back living in Brazil. A crowd of Portuguese speakers and a few caipirinhas definitely add to the authenticity, and a below-ground venue without windows onto the street truly makes me feel like I'm no longer in New York City.

New York based Brazilian band, Brasil Live, just by virtue of its name, promises something like what I've described above, and, man, do they deliver. Every time. I first saw Brasil Live at Village Underground as part of an evening of musical performances by groups from New York and São Paulo. I had an absolute blast, dancing samba and forró on the crowded dance floor and singing along to all of my favorite songs. I knew I'd be back. 

Low and behold, my friend Mauricio Zottarelli, whom I wrote about in my last post, told me he was going to be playing a show with Brasil Live. Of course I immediately marked my calendar and invited a few friends. When we arrived at Village Underground, however, the venue was much less crowded than I remembered from the time before. I was aware of at least two other Brazilian events happening in Manhattan that same night, a performance by Milton Nascimento and a launch party for Wallpaper's City Guide to Rio, and they apparently were drawing from the same pool of partiers. This lower than usual turnout, however, did not discourage the members of Brasil Live who went on to give a stellar performance. 

In fact, the intimate crowd was particularly appropriate that evening. The grandfather of one of the lead vocalists, Daumielle Caldeira, was in the audience, watching for the first time his granddaughter perform in New York City. Daumielle opened the show with a touching dedication of her performance to her special guest. But as soon as the band started to play, Daumielle's pop star persona took over, hips rolling and hair swinging with no shortage of sensuality. Lucky Grandpa got the same show as everyone else. 

Marcos Vigio, Daumielle Caldeira, Thiago Machado, Fabiana Masili
at Village Underground. Photo from
Brasil LIve Facebook Album

Some of my favorite songs were performed by Brasil Live's other principal vocalists, Fabiana Masili and Thiago Machado. Fabiana covered alternative rock classics from groups like Kid Abelha, and Thiago did great renditions of Seu Jorge and of other Samba artists. In addition to the lead singers, musicians playing base, guitar, and percussion crowded the stage and even poured over onto the dance floor. Every single member of Brasil Live was having so much fun performing, continually interacting with one another and with the audience. The group's enthusiasm is contagious and, combined with the Brazilan music beats, draws you out of your seat.

No matter how much or how little experience you have dancing samba or forró, you won't be able to resist the urge to move your body. In fact, for many of the songs in Brasil Live's repertoire, like pop hits by Ivete Sangalo, the customary accompanying dance is jumping up and down and waiving your hands in the air. Simple and fun. But for those of you who aren't shy and are willing to test your skill, there is always at least one talented couple, who when they aren't blowing your mind with their coordinated cavorting, gladly extend a hand in your direction and take you through the steps. After three hours of being twirled and dipped by the "pros" and jumping up and down to the crowd pleasers, I was as sweaty, winded, and high on endorphins as if I'd just run a 5k.

So don't miss the experience of Brasil Live. Even if you have already vacationed in Rio, done business in São Paulo, or have lived in other parts of the country for an extended period like me, this is your ticket to Brazil in New York City. Brasil Live plays every other Tuesday at the Village Underground. I think their next performance is on Tuesday, July 5, but to get the lastest updates straight from the source, Like Brasil Live on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. A $10 cover is collected at the door, and if that bothers you, just tell yourself you're getting a bargain of a dance class or a vacation.