TVD Live: Thievery Corporation at the 9:30 Club, 1/18

When you see a performance live, you usually go in knowing the genre, speed, and crowd you’re walking into. Doing so usually eliminates the element of surprise that generally makes seeing something old (like a band you have an affinity for) work on a less exciting level.

So when you take the idea of genre-meshing—the act of taking everything you know about a couple types of music, throwing it into a sack and beating it against a tree—you form something completely new and unique, even if it’s just recycled material. Which is why I can see how Thievery Corporation, the very DC staple that takes genre-meshing to a whole other level, can sell out three back-to-back shows at the 9:30 Club after 18 years in the biz. Not being the type of group who is relegated to just one category, Thieves doesn’t so much tap dance on the line of multi-genus—but krumps all over it.

Eric Hilton and Rob Garza, the figureheads of Thievery, held rank in the back, bopping and swaying to the music they created along with the rest of the audience, who refused to stop dancing throughout the entire show. Keeping the interlacing strong, they orchestrated a revolving door of 15 members coming on and off of the stage to give a fresh angle on music we had (mostly) already been privy to. One singer replaced the other as the set went on, bringing their own flavor to each of the Corporation’s cuts. LouLou O. Ghelichkhani took reign for a good part, with her soulful crooning as lead singer during the set. Then we got a healthy dose of the rasta supreme from the masters Ras Puma, Sleepy Wonder, and See-I, each giving a lesson on a little thing called reggae.

So does having that type of mish-mash structure make them the desirable go-to for anyone looking for a good time? Maybe. It doesn’t stop at the blurring of dub reggae, bossa nova, and psychedelic rock sensibilities that pushes them beyond most when it comes live performances. Their albums work for just about any party atmosphere that you can try to achieve—so playing them live, spot-on, was like bringing the entire party back to your place. And the vigorous lighting structure not only complimented the fun cuts being played, but added to them as well.

And when you take that idea on stage and apply it to the line-up of your group, the dynamics of your lighting, and the music the audience has come to see—you come out having something that never gets the chance to feel stale. And it always stays as exciting, like you didn’t know what you were walking into.

Photos: Richie Downs

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