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It was an unseasonably warm Wednesday night in Boston, and the lights of the House of Blues fluttered in a sultry steam of pinks and blues and beiges. The floor, the mezzanine, and even the balcony beckoned an unparalleled stream of excited concert-goers; the venue was completely sold out. The clock turned from 8:59 to then, of course 9 p.m. — and at that point, on this December 16, 2016, none of our lives would ever be the same.
Veteran D.C. hep cats Thievery Corporation ushered in some much needed southern comfort via a seamless ensemble of proverbial cool. First to the stage came the collective’s touring bassist Ashish Vyas in a swath of long black hair and blush-inducing side burns. Vyas’s bass threw down commanding rhythms that synchronized with his fluid stage presence: he beamed like a string of lights illuminating a once very dark, very lonely room. Paradise, not so much lost; but, rather hidden, soon to be found.
When I was little, all I wanted to be when I grew up was an astronaut. I’d lie in bed at night, staring up into the infinite darkness; transforming the eeriness into the milky way. Black nothings would reconstruct as shooting stars, blurred comets, and eclipses. I wanted to float into the weightless twilight, alone. A lone exploration into the abyss of a new world.
In some ways, Thievery’s performance answered all of my childhood dreams. In the center of the stage lie a chaise, where a sitarist began the evening’s raga. It caressed some nod to a far-off era where only the most abstract, most transcendent might survive. The group’s swarm of parts Brazilian, Jamaican, Arabian, and Indian melodies collide and intertwine in a seductive and inviting manner.
I’d close my eyes and feel my body falling back, back, back… into those same romanticized visions of my earlier years. Layers of nothing, but everything enveloped me as the sonic collaborations played on. I felt weightless in the sound. Then I’d open my eyes and realize that my feet (dirtied up, high-top converse) were still planted firmly on the ground.
Complementing, yet diverse, vocal stylings came thanks to the very talented, very beautiful females Loulou Ghelichkhani and Natalia Clavier. Their voices hung throughout the air, arresting anyone in their presence. All the while, projections of purple clouds floated in and out of the crowd, then divulged into robust green chords that altered to and fro in varying size.
Founding member Rob Garza stood steadfast behind his turntable, hovering nearly above the rest of the band’s members. Moments in his beats took on auras of soundtracks to James Bond and Mission Impossible, as he led his troupe through a series of riddling musical spells.
The night’s journey into the delightful unknown came to a surreal climax when the opening of the group’s track “The Hearts a Lonely Hunter” began to ignite. The crowd breathed in new life, and erupted in cheer: all of us yelling back the words to the song. Finally, I had been invited to the space ship, and it’s beautiful forever.