Fillmore Miami Beach
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Better than: Having your temporomandibular joint examined.
Oscar-winning musician and former otolaryngologist Jorge Drexler may as well have been performing in a small, candle-lit taberna for all the warm little jokes and idiosyncratic anecdotes he tossed off during his performance at the Fillmore Miami Beach.
That type of thing can go either way for a performer. But in the case of this charming Jewish Uruguayan minstrel, it works favorably. As a super gringa, I was in a very different league from the hundreds of loyal Drexler followers who attended the show, singing along with his (I imagine) love-laced Spanish lyrics, giving a collective sigh of appreciation after the first few chords of a familiar song.
Still, even as an outsider, I felt drawn into his unique little world. Early in the show, he composed a spontaneous little ditty about his climate-sensitive guitar. "My guitar is not used to this weather/It was so damn cold in New York/And it was even colder in Boston/And then in San Francisco it was not so cold/And in Los Angeles it was surprisingly a little colder." He sang these lyrics, and actually many more along the same lines, while he adjusted his guitar strings and the audience giggled.
Speaking of cute, his band is just freaking adorable. The drummer, Borja Barrueta, wore a plaid short-sleeved shirt that made him look like a grinning Latin lumberjack. I mean that in a hot way. Oh, and these guys are ridiculously talented, too. His versatile percussionist Carlos Campón took a number of pretty, smooth, but otherwise unremarkable tracks to an otherworldly level with the ambient sounds of the saw and the theremin, an early electronic instrument that's played and controlled by holding a hand in the air above the device.
Yes, it's a little Radiohead-esque. Unfortunately, unlike Radiohead's Thom Yorke, whose vocals seem to have been hatched from the same egg as the ethereal electronica his band is famous for, Drexler's vocals seemed to disappear as the layers of instruments became thicker and more intricate. In other words, it was obvious that he's typically a solo performer.
That's not to say that he should have left the band at home. On the contrary, for someone who can't appreciate what I'm sure are poetic lyrics, the band's hungry enjoyment of the marimba, wood blocks, and bongos totally made the show. Bass guitarist Matias Cella added Santana-like anchorage to many of the compositions, while Sebastián Merlín looked and sounded as though he had first picked up the marimba mallets at about the same time that he first picked up a fork.
The genuine love of sounds and music was apparent across the board, and an enthusiasm for experimentation with new types of sound was palpable. Three quarters of the way through the show, Drexler confided that he and the band had been sampling sounds from around the world, asking Campon to demonstrate the recordings as he spoke. There was a bicycle bell from Madrid, the sound of a train from somewhere else in Europe, a man hocking peanuts in Mexico, a recording of Sinatra's I Left My Heart in San Francisco sampled from some bar in San Francisco, and New York, New York, taken of course, in New York (Drexler seems to idolize Sinatra), followed by recordings from the Miami airport. All of these were woven into the next song the band performed, Deseo, giving the song a richness and a highly-personalized feel.
Miami was the last stop on Drexler's tour, and the whole band seemed reluctant to let it end. The audience swarmed the base of the stage at the end of the performance, and Drexler proceded to perform not one but four encore songs.
The Crowd: Mostly Latin, about fifty percent 20- and 30-somethings, and the rest varying stages of older. A lot of people getting loose with some cocktails pre-concert.
Overheard in the Crowd: Clapping in the middle of songs, even though Drexler told them repeatedly not to fucking clap in the middle of songs. He said it a lot nicer, of course. But I would definitely guess it's a pet peeve of his.
Random Detail: The "stage guards" at the Fillmore take their jobs waaaay too seriously.
Jorge Drexler's Setlist:
-"Todos A Sus Puestos"
-"Una Cancion Me Trajo Hasta Aqui"
-"Cerca Del Mar"
-"Se Va, Se Va, Se Fue"
-"Toque De Queda"
-"La Nieve En La Bola De Nieve"
-"Guitarra Y Vos"
-"Aquellos Tiempos (Milonga Del M.J./Inoportuna)"
-"Polvo De Estrellas"
-"Todo Se Transforma"
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-"La Trama Y El Desenlace Sea"
-- Camille Lamb