With every Brazilian Independence Day (Sept. 7th) usually comes a plethora of great Brazilian music to Los Angeles. Still, it was a shock to see Os Mutantes on the Amoeba instore calendar when it was posted back in August. I’m sure it was more of a coincidence than something planned, but In the back of my mind I thought, “How cool is that!?” To say that I’m a fan of Os Mutantes is an understatement; in fact, it's probably one of the few groups that most Amoeba employees with all our collective vast tastes in music can agree upon. Since their reunion, or rather, their resurgence back in 2006, I have managed to miss all their shows in Los Angeles due to plain old bad timing. At last, I would finally see the band that was the gateway for me and so many others to discovering Brazilian music.
In the early nineties, I read an article on Os Mutantes. They were referred to as “The Brazilian Beatles,” but that is not what drew me to them. It was that they, along with the other Tropicalistas Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Caetano Veloso and Tom Zé were radicals and into taking all influences, whether they was Brazilian, European, Avant-garde or folk music, and putting them all together. Mutantes were the easiest to digest because they had much in common with other Psychedelic groups of that era, but after listening to them on a continuous basis, I started to notice their musicianship and songwriting was much more advanced than most groups of that time. They were the best of the Avant-garde rock bands because they could swing better than any of them. I remembering going to a record store and buying all their import CDs that I could find. From there I got into Caetano, Gilberto Gil, Tom Ze and soon started to venture out into other non-Tropicalia artist such as Milton Nascimento and Jorge Ben. From then on, the doors of Brazilian music became wide open. My discovery of Brazilian music from Jobim to Funk Carioca is due in part to Os Mutantes.
So, with much anticipation, I waited for their instore performance. Since the reformation of the group, Sergio Dias remains the only original member left. Singer Rita Lee never joined the reunion and Arnaldo Baptista, keyboardist and Sergio’s brother, left a year after the reunion in 2006. Long time drummer Dinho Leme remained in the group with a cast of new players, all which played on the newly released Haih Or Amortecedor CD. The band started show with "Tecnicolor," from the album of the same name. It's not one of their most known songs, as the album was recorded in 1971 and not released until 2001; it caught most of the audience off guard. After that they launched into several of the songs from the new album. I saw lots of confused faces and perhaps some disappointed ones that they were not the band of 1968; however, their new material they played from Haih Or Amortecedor is as adventurous as the music they put out over forty years ago. Einstein said it best many years ago, that “energy is never lost, it’s only transferred.” The new Mutantes forge forward as they always done. To go backwards would be anti-everything the band ever stood for and I commend them on that.
However, when they did play the older songs, they just blew me away. When they launched into "Ando Meio Desligado" from A Divina Comédia, I nearly flipped. I was instantly reminded of that feeling of hearing them for the first time. How I listened to them repeatedly at work, in my car and at home. I've never looked at music the same way since.
Another thing I loved about the group was the sheer joy they were experiencing on stage. I've never seen a band smile as much as them. In an era of young bands with much posturing and posing, Os Mutantes' live show was a breath of fresh air in the smoke-filled Los Angeles skyline.
For more pictures from the instore, click here!