The Old Town School of Folk Music is not where one would picture a Bajofondo show. The performance was being filmed for WYCC, a Chicago PBS affiliate, as part of a program titled Musicology: Live from Old Town School of Folk Music that is bringing artists from around the world to U.S. audiences.
The venue feels like a school recital hall mixed with a church—there is even pew-like seating with some space before the stage. But the band managed to transport the crowd into the small open-floored club you stumble upon late in the evening, and are enticed into by the infectious dance party that is happening within.
Bajofondo can best be described as an experience. The music alone shows off the skills of the eight members, but when you add on Veronica Lóza’s live video mixing it changes your interpretation of the music completely. The multimedia creates a rich layer, so that you are torn between watching the screen and watching the performers. Particularly the bandoneón player Martín Ferrés, not only for the uniqueness of this instrument and how it is played, but the energy level he brings is contagious.
When Gustavo Santaolalla announced they were about to play their latest single off of Presente (Sony), “Pide Piso” everyone cheered. The atmosphere of the show began with a few brave couples tango dancing in the area between the stage and seating, and escalated into a full-blown dance party in which the band invited the crowd to join them on the stage.
Overall, Bajofondo has the three criteria for a fantastic show. One, they sound better live than recorded. Two, they play any venue as if it is a packed arena. And three, they are able to evoke audience participation and lower inhibitions.
Catch Bajofondo on tour:
4/2/13 Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
4/5/13 Miami, FL @ North Beach Bandshell