Os Mutantes / Best Coast at The Forum
Firstly, it’s a bit rich to be told by Forum security “You can’t peek through this curtain”, when up the back of the venue and after I'd showed my ticket, I had wanted to see who was on stage momentarily without having to walk around to the seats. I was also later reprimanded by another helpful oaf for standing in an archway clearly out of the path of others, for “health and safety reasons”. But it was just plain embarrassing when some dude with crutches, sitting down the front, relaxing, (amongst a crowd of no more than ten - sorry Otouto), was made to stand up by another hefty, trench-coated and clearly bored security fucker. When the venue’s this empty, please use some common sense and just go ahead and lighten the fuck up.
Best Coast were booooring. Sure, Bethany has sweet tatts and seems like she’d be fun to hang and smoke weed with. I love their debut album Crazy For You and reckon she’s highly sexable, but tonight's set fell horribly flat. Judging by their separate side-show and their set a few days later at Golden Plains, tonight simply wasn't their crowd. You could blame the weird pairing of Os Mutantes and Best Coast for the lack of love, but she didn’t help proceedings by berating the audience into liking them, with taunts of “feel free to move, you don't have to look so bored”, which they then followed up with… their most obscure song! The drum intro to Boyfriend being the most exciting two seconds of an hour long set, the band were clearly upset that they failed to inspire a reaction from the crowd. You can't blame a crowd if you're used to fawning praise, but you’re the one who's sucking. This is The City Of Folded Arms, girlfriend, and you gotta work hard for our love. Obviously missing Crazy For You's lush production and layered harmonies, what remained was merely sly winks with loud guitars, rudimentary chords, and simplistic, juvenile songs. Question your cool, Best Coast, and work harder on album number two.
To all this snoozerama, Os Mutantes were the perfect antidote, Dr Jones. First becoming widely known as part of the ‘Tropicalia’ movement after Beck paid tribute with his 1998 song Tropicalia, it would be an understatement to say Os Mutantes (pronounced Uz Moo-tan-tesh, apparently) have had a rich history since forming in Brazil in 1966. This was at a time and place when making their style of music could have gotten you shot by the military run government and musicians were forced underground, having to improvise with household items (like sewing machine pedals) to create simple distorted guitar effects. Three seminal psychedelic albums began their career in the late 60s, before in-fighting and acid freak-outs took over, leading to members quitting, rejoining and quitting again. Today only the cloak-wearing Sergio Dias remains from the original line-up but in their own distinctive way, 'Os Mutantes circa 2011' remain an absolute revelation. Gone are some distinctive trademarks of their sound, like the fuzzed guitar line that make Tropicalia anthem (and McDonald’s jingle) A Minha Menina so distinctive and so nasty. In place of these seemingly core elements is something infinitely richer. Bizarre Brazillian laughter segues into lush choral harmonies sung in Portugese, while flamenco guitar flourishes morph into hard rock riffery, and sometimes all in the space of 30 seconds. Once a “sociological experiment under Brasilia rule” Os Mutantes are now a mixed troupe of musicians that rival even Brian Wilson’s backing band for sheer professionalism and pitch-perfect performance.
Warming us up for the little-known portion of the set with a bizarrely brilliant version of “Olivia Elton John’s” Let's Get Physical, Sergio was almost apologetic when introducing the newer material: “Because we are a new band, to keep alive we must have new music… so don't clap just yet.” Songs like Tecnicolor, Virginia and Querida Querida all held their own against classics Panis Et Circensis and Bat Macumba, causing near outbreaks of Lambada and Capoeira amongst the unwashed hat wearing and homeless hippies. Forget about being even alive when Os Mutantes started out, most members of the crowd present tonight wouldn’t have even had pubes when Beck’s Tropicalia samba-ed into our world. But they'll always be welcome back.
Loved: Os Mutantes' seamless splicing of genre.
Hated: Best Coast's smuggness.
Drank: Japanese beer.