Thievery Corporation at Belly Up Tavern, San Diego

Seeing your favorite bands at smaller venues is always a treat: intimacy abounds as interaction between players and audience members amplifies immensely. Such a venue is San Diego’s Belly Up Tavern along the coast of Solana Beach. A variety of acts cycle through the Belly Up; most returning as an annual or biannual gig. One group that is always welcome (and selling the place out) is Thievery Corporation — world music’s most underrated gem.

Opening the night of December 12th was Brazilian Girls out of NYC. Combining funk, soul and a wee bit of reggae, Brazilian Girls started the dance party right away. Female led and, as it turns out, empowered, Brazilian Girls shined for concertgoers who mostly were new to the band. That said, there were a few girls in the crowd shouting every lyric at top volume, ecstatic to see the act live in the flesh. Brazilian Girls ended with a song about “pussy, pussy, pussy, marijuanaaaa”, to the laughter of the younger folks (and possibly the chagrin of the older attendees). The band’s performance outweighed the song’s crudeness in the end.

One group that is always welcome (and selling the place out) is Thievery Corporation — world music’s most underrated gem.

Between sets, Brazilian Girls met Belly Up patrons at the merch booth by the front door to sign autographs and chat up anyone who wanted a meet-and-greet. This particular photojournalist is grateful for a signed vinyl I took home that night!

As the lights fell, the crowd squished up to the very front as best they could in an attempt to get the best standing room spot for the night. Cheers exploded as Thievery members came out, saluting red cups high in the air and shaking hands of front row fans. With mesmerizing lights dancing around the stage, Thievery Corporation launched into their signature trance state, rotating singer after singer, vibe after vibe, language after language. True Thievery fans knew every song on the setlist, for the band has far too many hits to choose from these days! With energy high, Thievery Corporation dazzled as they always do far into the night, closing down the place to raucous applause. Until next year, San Diego continues to love this eclectic, one-of-a-kind musical collective.

Photography by Kristy Rose

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