In concert: Los Amigos Invisibles
By Mark Jenkins
Swagger is Los Amigos Invisibles's essential attribute, but the band didn't make a big entrance Friday night at the Black Cat. The members of the Venezuela-rooted Latin-funk sextet entered one by one, and began playing to a recorded dance track. It was an apt prelude to a set that for nearly two hours elevated groove above melody.
(Gliding between genres with ease, plus more pictures after the jump.)
Despite that emphasis, Los Amigos's performance wasn't as one-dimensional as the electro beats and timbres it incorporated. The band glided between genres with ease, often layering them in a musical parfait. Funk, lounge, rock and rap melded with such traditional styles as merengue, usually at a brisk strut. The proportion of languid material was lower than on the group's latest album, "Commercial." While fans tried out their salsa steps, the musicians preferred the pogo: The five players who weren't tethered to a drum kit hopped in unison, and encouraged the audience to join them.
Los Amigos have been based in New York for a decade, and no longer stress their Venezuelan identity. English lyrics were sung, and universal sentiments extolled. In "Amor," the set's first full song, frontman Julio Briceno blandly declared that "love in any language always means the same."
Actually, the band's raunchier early material celebrated love's carnal aspects, and such bawdy older tunes as "Ponerte en Cuarto" were livelier than such mild-mannered new ones as "In Luv with U." But the songs were secondary to locomotion in a performance that channeled its lustiness toward the dance floor.
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