Thievery Corporation | 06.26.08 | NYC

Words by: Jeremy Pfau

Thievery Corporation :: 06.26.08 :: Central Park Summerstage :: New York, NY

Central Park Summerstage :: New York, NY
Labeling Thievery Corporation's music isn't easy. The two artists who comprise the group's core, Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, have labeled it "Outernational." It's reggae with Middle Eastern influences, dance electronica with the rhythmic complexities of West African music and their lyrics are sung in French, Persian, Spanish, Portuguese and English. Perhaps that's why this DJ duo, performing with Seu Jorge, Bebel Gilberto, Federico Aubele and a slew of backup musicians, was chosen to play the Benefit Concert for Central Park's Summerstage, a series of concerts by artists running the gamut of musical genres.

Although Thievery Corporation was the headliner, the night's time was evenly divided among the four bands that performed, which was a good or bad aspect depending on whether you bought your ticket with the idea of seeing a Thievery Corporation show or just a night of live music. Although the doors opened at 5 p.m. and the music started at six, Thievery Corporation didn't get onstage until 9 p.m. and played for only one hour. It was an exhilarating hour though, and the other performers were worth seeing. There had been forecasts of rain and thunderstorms but when the music began with Argentina's Federico Aubele, the sun was shining bright and hot. People were laid out on the ground in front of the stage, shirts and shoes off, while the sounds of Aubele and his gently strumming guitar filled the air. With his band consisting of drums, bass, keys and guitar, Aubele played a short set that was pleasant as ambience while the crowd strolled in.

The next band that played was a local electronic group, Turntables on the Hudson, which brought the first real burst of energy to the evening. A similar setup and sound to Thievery Corporation, although scaled down to a degree, this group was made up of two DJs and two percussionists, one of whom switched between congos and the Middle Eastern string instrument, the oud. This group plays every week at Water Taxi Beach and is worth checking out.

Thievery Corporation
Brazilian singer Bebel Gilberto played a lively set. She shied away from her jazzy side and embraced the spirit of Summerstage, playing her liveliest and most danceable material. Her sultry tone and ability to twist and play with the time and rhythm of her vocals evoked the spirit of Flora Purim. "Aganju," a simple two-chord tune was the highlight of her set, with the atmospheric buildups of her band as well as the incredibly catchy chorus, which had the American audience, with no clue as to what it actually meant, singing the word "Aganju." She closed as the sun set over Central Park West, and people removed their sunglasses and awaited the arrival of Thievery Corporation.

By the time the headliner got onstage darkness had fallen over Central Park. Their set-up was a bassist, two percussionists (one behind the congas and bongos, the other playing cymbals), a sitar player, several guest vocalists, and at the center, of course, the two DJs. The set was a multimedia extravaganza, with a jumbo-TV behind the band playing visual goodies from psychedelic amoebas to clips of an emaciated Indian man doing yoga, and a belly dancer clad in archaic Arab apparel came on for one song.

The grooves were like a gravitational force sucking in the audience. Everyone in the crowd was dancing as if they were in a club rather than the open air of Central Park. While the music was spectacular, the glitches in the sound system, which periodically crackled and clicked, interfered.

Thievery Corporation
Seu Jorge's time with Thievery Corporation was brief. He barely sang two songs; one of them only on backup vocals. The performance of his reggae song "Hagua" was remarkable, incorporating the horn section and the backup singers in the chanting of "Hare Krishna" in the chorus. His performance left you wanting more though. Nonetheless, Thievery Corporation had several other singers who were great. Sleepy Wonder, a dub-rapper who was featured on one of the songs was mesmerizing with his machine gun speed lyrics, which seemed to spill out of his mouth like lightning. "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter," originally a collaboration between Thievery and David Byrne, was sung by a guest vocalist who mimicked David Byrne's dance performance in Stop Making Sense, running laps around the stage while the band took solos.

Thievery Corporations' sound breaks free from the often canned, contrived feeling of a lot of DJ dance music by incorporating live instruments and vocalists into their music, which adds a more visceral, organic aspect. Watching Thievery perform isn't at all simply watching two DJs behind turntables fiddling with computers and synths.

The strict 10 p.m. curfew of Central Park, as well as the lengthy periods of set-up in between each group, cut down the time of actual music, which clearly irritated many of the concertgoers who had paid $65 dollars for their tickets. With the beautiful weather, relatively cheap food and beer (six dollar cheeseburgers are a bargain for NYC concert venue standards) and hours of diverse world music though, it's hard to complain.

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[Published on: 7/7/08]

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Suave starstarstarstarstar Mon 7/7/2008 03:21PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


So dank..... so chiil

George W. Bush II starstarstarstarstar Mon 7/7/2008 06:49PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

George W. Bush II

Their set at Rothbury was one of the sweetest things I've ever experienced. These guys inspired me so much that words do not exist to describe the way the made me feel and the what I took away with me. Their message is strong and its spreadin fast!

River starstarstarstarstar Mon 7/7/2008 06:54PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


them at rothbury!!!!! had to sneak em in a lil while primus was playin that forest made it sooooooooooooo hard to get to those shows on time!!! lol

ScIFreak starstarstarstarstar Mon 7/7/2008 08:35PM
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Sherwood had me spun out a couple of times yes. But I'll save my comment when the Reviews of Roth comes in. All I can say is that Bonnaroo has it ALL WRONG and shout take some notes...

River starstarstarstarstar Mon 7/7/2008 08:54PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


bonnaroo was cool until '04 that was the last good year!!!! FUCK bonnaroo sry about the cussing. o and wait, this waas the first year of rothbury it will get even more strickt as years go on. but im still spining from that phil show last night and that crazy storm we had!!!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} Tue 7/8/2008 03:35AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

I want to see this band, I hear nothing but great things :)

santacruzin Tue 7/8/2008 07:21AM
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thievery corporation shows are sick. they put a tremendous amount of money and effort into recreating the vibe of their albums with live vocalists and instrumentalists on stage. anyone who lives in NY should go to a turntables on the hudson party. those guys go off! they have been throwing crazy parties weekly for years, but the word is getting out, and i hear they're getting bigger lately. if you live in nyc....GO TO A TOTH PARTY!

groovesharer Tue 7/8/2008 09:33AM
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TC played great, but the sound was really awful. Besides the buzzing and cracking, there was basically no low end. Dub with no bass? Doesn't quite work. I have to say I expected more from a $65 ticket. Still, great music and a very cool experience. TC gets an A. The sound guy and system get a D-.

OBPhunkE Tue 7/8/2008 09:55AM
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I agree with the posts above about theivery and their set at Roth blew me away, but also concur with the waiting for any roth reviews til that story goes up. I'll probably spend hours reading the posts about rothbury, what a place

snausages starstarstarstarstar Tue 7/8/2008 06:15PM
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ooohhh yeah. saw them at summerfest this was danker than dank!

Lakai star Wed 7/9/2008 06:52AM
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the volume was waaay to low. after seeing other thievery shows this show was a big let down.

thehurricane23 Wed 7/9/2008 10:38AM
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Good to see these guys getting publicity. Havven't really been into them for a few years now, hard to believe the Mirror is 8 years old! I remember getting turned on to these guys right before the first Bonnaroo and turning a bunch of my southeren friends on to them there. As for the sound, running sound for DJ's/Rap/elecro, is a LOT different than normal. I work as a sound technician and know from experience, lol, it can be ugly. It was probably a company used to running sound for rock events.

thehurricane23 Wed 7/9/2008 10:44AM
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If you like world beats, check out the CD review for Global Noise, saw their premiere in NOLA and was some of the weirdest shit I've ever witnessed. Worrell can just blow your mind.

ScIFreak starstarstarstarstar Thu 7/10/2008 06:58AM
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lasimmons starstarstar Wed 7/16/2008 08:53AM
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this definitely had my body movin' and i didn't even realize it! it's amazing.