Words & Images by: L. Paul Mann
Massive Attack/Thievery Corporation :: 11.05.10 :: Santa Barbara Bowl :: Santa Barbara, CA
In the biggest double bill to descend on the Santa Barbara Bowl in the last few years, new music masters Thievery Corporation and Massive Attack closed out the 2010 season. As part of the Santa Barbara New Noise Conference and Music Festival, the November 5th concert was the crown jewel of the three day event. New Noise brings musical events to venues all across Santa Barbara throughout the year and hosts the conference and concert event every year.
|Thievery Corp by L Paul Mann|
Thievery Corporation started the show right on time before much of the audience had arrived to pack the house. The band features an ever-changing lineup of singers and musicians from across the music spectrum. The core of the group features the Washington, DC-based electronic music wizards Rob Garza and Eric Hilton. The duo has been taking their musical carnival on the road for 15 years. The techno wizards mix their magical sounds discretely behind their turntables while a sea of musicians and ever-shifting singers, including Roots, Zeebo, Sleepy Wonder and Sista Pat, perform a smorgasbord of sounds.
The core band laid down an infectious dance beat while the parade of singers set the musical genre for each song. The music built to a trance-like crescendo through a techno, hip hop, dub rap, reggae, middle eastern, Indian, and Brazilian veil of world music. By the end of their 90-minute set, the Bowl was filled with ecstatic fans dancing in dreamlike euphoria. The band has just released a greatest hits album, It Takes a Thief. The new release is a great way for new fans of the group to introduce themselves to the band's evolution over the years.
Massive Attack by L Paul Mann
After a short break, the Bowl came alive with the darker sound of Massive Attack. Considered to be one of the inventors of the trip hop sound in the 90s, the group hails from Bristol, England. Like Thievery Corporation, Massive Attack is an ever-evolving group of musicians built around an electronic music duo. Singer/DJ Grant Evan Marshall (3D) and Daddy G are the masterminds that have been producing experimental music for over 20 years. Although all of their music has a dark synth undertone, each new album adds new textures and layers.
The band immediately struck a dark mood with an ear piercing, bass heavy sound and sinister back lighting obscuring the performers. The sound was so loud that the engineer tasked with monitoring decibel levels for the Santa Barbara Bowl could be seen grimacing by the soundboard. The band most likely faced a fine for exceeding the allowable decibel limit, but that seemed to suit music fans just fine.
The dark tone of the show was cemented with an elaborate light show featuring flashing electronic binary codes, left leaning political messages and government statistics from across the globe. The result was an intensive multimedia assault on the senses with a flair for the academic. A steady stream of guest singers led the veteran band of accomplished musicians through an pleasantly shifting array of sounds, right up until the 10 pm curfew. What a great way to end the 2010 Santa Barbara Bowl season.
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