I had researched the band a little on their website, but the video I watched there didn’t really give me a good idea of what was to come, looking back on it. On the glowing reviews of Voluntario Global coordinators and another volunteer, however, I decided that was more than enough reason to check it out. Though he was skeptical at first, I managed to convince my friend and Communications Team colleague, Lennart, to accompany me to one of their weekly shows every Monday.
After taking the B Line down Corrientes, stopping at Carlos Gardel, it was but 3 or 4 blocks to walk to the Ciudad Cultural Konex, or simply, “Konex” on Sarmiento, where LBdT performs. I was a bit worried that the show had already started since I was a good half an hour later to arrive than the website’s start time of 7 PM (19:00), but luckily this was only when the doors opened to the venue. After waiting in line for a short time, a bouncer checked our IDs and then let us in (18+). Upon paying for our tickets, which cost around $175 ARS or $10 USD, we entered what proved to be a pleasant open-air concert venue.
Once inside, we walked around a bit, got food and drinks from the bar area towards the back of the venue, then waited for the venue to fill up with people until the band began to play. Percussion was, and is, the name of the game. Immediately it was plain to see that it would be a good show because the music wasn’t just played well, but the style was particularly well-suited for a show, and not necessarily for personal listening at home. The band didn’t play songs or rigid compositions so much as they were a highly orchestrated drum circle, exploring complicated, groovy, many times danceable rhythms with an array of players on drums as diverse as congos to bongos, and percussion from cowbell to clave. Though they weren’t “songs” being played, it was clear that they were well practiced in playing certain rhythms all together, from long and complex, to more succinct ones. While they did have breaks in between themes, much of the show consisted of the band transitioning smoothly from one groove to another, sussing out one element of a rhythm and capitalizing on it, isolating it until other members would fill in and recontextualize a relatively simple rhythm into a brand new beat with a different feel and tempo. It was very good, to say the least.
The “vibe” of the concert and fellow concert-goers was also pretty unique. Given the weekly nature of the event, I suspect LBdT shows have been transformed into a bit of a pilgrimage or mecca for people of a certain mindset and musical taste. Though not reggae, LBdT is similar in that it is also African-influenced music, and reggae has a huge following here in Buenos Aires, so it makes some sense that I saw so many dread-locked heads about me, and more than a few joints passed and puffs released to the night air. One man with long hair put up in a bun danced next to us spiritually with abandon the whole night, though that was far from unique in the crowd: many others I saw also felt obliged to move their bodies more than the compulsory foot tap that LBdT inspired in nearly all watching.