Monday, July 25, 2011

Embracing the Eclectic: Marcelo D2 Retrospective

Marcelo D2
Credit: Eliseu Cavalcante for
In his preview of Brasil Summerfest and its kickoff Summer Stage event, "Showing Off Eclectic Tastes," Larry Rohter gets to the heart of Marcelo D2's musical essence. "Even more than most hip-hop artists [Marcelo D2] has always had wide-ranging tastes and a curiosity to see what happens when different genres are combined in unexpected ways."

 I've been listening to a few dozen of Marcelo's songs on Grooveshark since I heard Desabafo in Fast Five, I had never seen Marcelo D2 perform live until yesterday at Summer Stage. Only after witnessing in person his mastering of multiple genres and generations of music, do I understand how to approach his work.

Two weeks ago, I sat down with
Marcelo for an interview, the first interview I've ever done for Manhattanlândia, actually. I inevitably brought my own musical bias and preferences to the conversation and, subsequently, to the write-up. In retrospect, I see I neglected to consider his influences and accomplishments in musical genres I generally don't listen to, like punk and hardcore. At his Summer Stage performance, I was able to appreciate for the first time Marcelo's ability to bring together some of the most distinct sounds and assemble them so meaningfully into an unforgettable experience for his audience. 

After Pitty riled up the crowd with her alt-rock-centric repertoire, Marcelo D2 took the stage just as the sun came out in full force, dispelling the rain clouds and bringing the left over dampness to a boil. I couldn't help but think his Black Flag t-shirt was a strategic wardrobe decision (black doesn't show sweat marks). His denim vests with a Ramones patch sewn onto the breast was another nod to his musical influences. But the oppressively hot climate didn't seem to drain Marcelo's energy. He stayed hydrated throughout his performance with a bottomless cup of beer and brought equal enthusiasm to every type of song on the set list, which was all encompassing. 

The women in the audience had plenty of opportunities to dance samba to songs like "Batucada"  and "Á Procura Da Batida Perfeita." From our fancy footwork we naturally transitioned to jumping up and down and throwing our heads and raised hands in the direction of the stage when Marcelo performed hardcore hits like "Arte do Barulho." Throughout, he showcased his intimate knowledge of all types of music and his creativity in combing them, like when he added a few seconds of skat into "Ela disse" and mimed an a capela trombone during "Batucada." These subtleties can be appreciated only as part of a live performance. 

Bebel Gilberto joined Marcelo on stage, for two songs, "Minha Missão" (his) and "Close Your Eyes" (hers). While the pair had recorded "Minha Missão" together for Marcelo's album, Arte Do Barulho, "Close Your Eyes" was adapted for Marcelo especially for Summer Stage. It was so fresh, in fact, that print outs of the just-written lyrics were not-so-subtly secured to the stage in front of the artists before they performed it live for the first time. The two were a joy to watch together. Their dynamic was silly and effortless, just what you'd expect from two friends. 

After Bebel's exit, Marcelo made one last dive back into his arsenal of punk rock songs before paying tribute to his idol and mentor, Bezerra da Silva, with "Semente." When he a covered song by soul and funk master, Tim Maia, Marcelo joked that only the woman were singing and told the men to "have some heart."

Such a wide ranging repertoire is not only an testiment to Marcelo's imagination and innovation as a composer, but undeniably to the talent of his band. His full set included two head-banging guitarists, an expert samba drummer using his full set just as ably for samba as for punk rock, and DJ Nuts presiding over it all from his platform at the back of the stage. Not a single member of the ensemble exited at any point during the show. All were actively participating in the creation of the unique hybrid of sounds that changed with every song. 

In part because of his diverse repertiore, and in part because of his irresistibly mischievous persona, Marcelo D2 knows how to please the crowd. For his final act, Marcelo invited women from the audience up to the stage to dance samba while he performed (and finished his beer). I forget what song he sang, though, because I was so focused on the dynamic unfolding before me. You could tell how excited and incredulous these women were to be up on stage with Marcelo D2, but it was also obvious that Marcelo was enjoying himself just as much, if not more than the women. At one point, he sat down on a speaker with his back to the audience, so he could appreciate a pair of hips squeezed into tight, jean shorts gyrating two feet from his face. Por isso que eu bebo...

Getting to know Marcelo D2 (the music and the man) has been a humbling experience both as a critic and as a fan. I learned that even if I don't love every one of his ingredients, Marcelo is able to mix up musical recipes of new and different flavors that appeal to a wide range of palates. I look forward to following Marcelo as he continues to create the unexpected and exciting.


  1. Hi,

    Can you please change the credit of the first picture to Eliseu Cavalcante?

    Ps.: Great post.