Photos by Terrance Doyle
When I moved to D.C., I quickly added “see Thievery Corporation” on my must-do list. I heard from fans, both locals and transplants, how incredible their live shows were. Thursday night, after failing to snag a ticket to any of their past shows, I finally found myself walking into the magical world of beats, bass and beautiful stories.
Despite bone-chilling weather, the 9:30 Club felt like a dancehall on a humid summer night. Positive energy oozed through the jammed-packed venue. Fellow concert-goers had a drink in one hand, the other either up in the air or around a friend. Turntable masters Eric Hilton and Rob Garza stood elevated on the stage with an ivory chaise longue between them, bringing the vibe of the Eighteenth Street Lounge to 9:30 Club.
As each song made its way through the speakers, a different singer rotated onto the stage–Sleepy Wonder, Mr. Lif, Loulou Ghelichkhani, Natalia Clavier, Notch and Ras Puma. At any given point, a minimum of eight musicians stood beneath the lights, percussion, brass, guitar, bass and drums, filling in the space from left to right. Bodies swayed in unison like an indoor wave pool.
A few moments had the crowd especially entranced. One occurred when Jamaican singer Racquel Jones took the microphone, previewing the group’s upcoming album by debuting “Letter to the Editor.”
Another mesmerizing moment happened during “The Heart’s A Lonely Hunter.” The lights rippled out from the center in a rainbow of colorful ribbons. Bouncing from the chaise longue to the top of the drums to center stage, one of the vocalists began to twirl a lightbulb in circles above the crowd. The lightbulb moved faster and faster through space until it went out.
The crowd’s energy surged with classics like “Lebanese Blonde,” “Amerimacka” and “Sound The Alarm.” Anytime Rob Myers grabbed the sitar, cheers echoed back at the Eastern notes.
“Culture of Fear” and “Warning Shots” have always been favorites of mine, but to hear them live, in the nation’s capital, simultaneously gave me the chills and a much needed dose of hope and determination for the future. More mellow sounds found in “Take My Soul” calmed my spirit back down and slowed down the swaying up in the balconies and all around me.
I had high expectations when I first made my way through the crowd. My expectations were not only met, they were surpassed. I wish I could warm my toes dancing to the live sounds of Thievery Corporation and bathe my body in the accompanying bright lights every night. There’s a reason why Thievery Corporation is known as one of D.C.’s best groups–they’ve been making magic through music for the past 20 years. Here’s hoping for 20 more.