Review: Os Mutantes bring Amazonian heat to the Skipperdome
It felt like we were in the rain forest, so why not take a musical trip to Brazil?Brazilian band Os Mutantes kept a couple hundred music buffs and fans of ’60s psychedelia distracted from discomfort and stress of the summer that won’t die at Skipper’s Smokehouse Tuesday night. (Note: Skipper’s also gets credit for helping beat the heat by providing fans and misters throughout the night.) The trippy concert was well-attended but not crowded, offering ideal entertainment for a Tuesday night out: low-key enough to require minimal recovery but out-there enough to distract from the doldrums of the workweek. Os Mutantes, who formed in the mid ’60s in Sao Paulo by brothers Arnaldo Baptista and Sergio Dias with singer Rita Lee, gets most of its recognition for the single, A Minha Menina, a dance-y rocker covered several times and featured in a McDonald’s commercial starring cute Little League losers. The band was never popular in the U.S. but highly influential. Kurt Cobain tried unsuccessfully to get the group to reunite to perform with Nirvana. Beck got heavily in the band, and David Byrne featured Os Mutantes on one of his Luaka Bop compilations.
This year, sole remaining original member Sergio Dias formed a new ensemble of musical mutants and released Haih ou Amortecedor this year on Anti-.
Gypsy folk pop trio DeLeon opened the show and got some good audience feedback. DJ Brian Oblivion furthered the festive vibe with his bossa nova, samba and dance music selection. Os Mutantes seemed to take a while to get into a groove. The band busted out its big hit only three songs in and eschewed the signature fuzz pedal that makes the song so dern catchy. About halfway through the act, the energy picked up and reached a nice fever pitch. Dias began to rock his hollow body guitar with dual pickups, getting in some righteous noodling and wah wah. Bia Mendes, who replaced Rita Lee, was sassy, talented and animated enough to stifle any naysayers who jeered at the original co-lead’s absence. Her vocals went from soft to operatic to aggressive without a strained note; her dance moves and facial expressions stole the stage.
The lively encore had 58-year-old Dias sporting an ear-to-ear boyish grin and giving his umpteenth shout-out to Tampa as the band performed two Gilberto Gil- and Caetano Veloso-penned classics, Bat Macumba and Panis et Circenses.
-- Julie Garisto, tbt*. Photos by Natalie Campisi Tarpley.