Live Review: Os Mutantes with Los Amigos Invisibles (Stern Grove)
Download: Os Mutantes - “Trem Fantasma”
Download: Os Mutantes - “Bat Mucamba”
Download: Os Mutantes - “El Justierciero"
San Francisco does a weekend concert series called Stern Grove Festival most Sundays in the summer. Sunday's show was the legendary Os Mutantes.
First, let me say this: Very few people were actually there for the band. Almost everyone came to hang out in the park and watch and participate in the bizarre fashion show that unfolds during these shows. The thing about free concerts is that they bring out all types: homeless people, people with little kids, hipsters and aging hippies.
Stern Grove on Sunday was a veritable melting pot.
Speaking of pot: the air was absolutely thick with weed (and tequila fumes). One of the unique things about Stern Grove is that it can't fit many people in front of the stage. Everyone who arrived less than 3 hours before the show got stuck up in the trees like stoned Viet Cong. See the photo below.
Almost as an after thought, I suppose I should talk about the bands some. Los Amigos Invisibles opened up the show. They were good but not great. They were catchy, but not infectious and fresh but not unique. They were definitely more accessable than OM, if the amount of dancing in the aisles during their set is to be used as a gauge of audience response.
But Os Mutantes were fucking masterful. In person, they portray an exuberance (and insanity) that isn't fully captured on record. Robed in gold cloth, the band came out obviously ready to perform sonic magic.
And that they did. Except for a couple songs that really dated them in terms of instrumentation, OM has remarkably timeless songs that translate powerfully to the outdoor setting. Their brand of freaked-out, tropical prog expresses the very essence of San Francisco life. It's just too bad that the yuppier parts of the crowd couldn't dig that.
Though the mist and cold ubiquitous to San Francisco had the audience a little bit down and out, the Brazilian heroes launched a blast of Tropicalia that got most of the audience to forget the drizzle, down some tequila and enjoy lovely Stern Grove. Definitely put them on your must-see list, especially if they'll be performing outdoors.
(April Wright and Tom Lubanovic)