Confusion and Bravado: Boogarins Live in LA
At first glance, the crowd inside the Bootleg Theater seemed more like international fashion bloggers at an after party, rather than fans anticipating a psych rock show. I wasn’t far off. Throughout the night, exiguous plaid draped figures whisper in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Australian. Australian was the toughest to understand.
Boogarins, a four piece psych rock band from Goiânia Brazil captivated, seduced, and at times, confused the crowd at LA’s Bootleg Theater. They opened their set with a song in their native tongue, Portuguese, that began by blending reverb soaked words in and out of each other. I speak Portuguese and I had no idea what they were saying. As their set progressed, frontman Dinho Almeida sang through his facial expressions. He pulled and pushed the swaying crowd with his smiles and grimaces of pleasure, saudade, and psychedelia.
About an hour into their set, the band journeyed through an almost uncomfortably long solo until they reached climax. Organization and confusion collided as Almeida repeated the same lyrical phrase in strange clawing tones and voices, while the band’s drummer, Ynaiã Benthroldo, took a back-lit center stage. Benthroldo proved that he could play anything as he cycled through a rolodex of musical genres on his drums, referencing hip-hop, rock, and samba breaks all in tempo and to the beat of the extended jam. If he couldn’t play it, it was only because he didn’t think to yet. His arms were loose whips, striking the drum skins with a bravado that felt both untamed and precise. Sweat flew off his face with every cymbal crack leaving a pool of artistic DNA at the foot of his bass drum.
I looked around and studied the audience. Everyone was clapping, but for their own reasons. Seventy percent were beside themselves with confusion, the other thirty yelled fanatically, like art had just been saved. An Australian girl next to me said something I couldn’t understand, then gave me a high five.
I waited backstage after the show to talk to the band. It smelled like cigarettes and fresh sawdust — then Boogarins appeared. The drummer, Benthroldo, somehow changed shirts before making it to the green room. His new shirt was much dryer, although his forehead still dripped clear pearls. As I made my way over to interview him, he was intercepted by two of the ‘international fashion blogger girls’. They laughed endearingly with him and spoke in soft foreign tongues. I could never win this battle, they deserved his attention and he deserved theirs.
Luckily, the lead singer, Almeida, was finishing up a conversation with a few fans that had fallen in love with his facial expressions. I approached him, not sure what to expect. As we spoke, it became immediately clear that he was the most down to earth spacecadette I had met in months. Almeida recounted stories of his tour with me and informed me that the insane solo jam was inspired by a mix of experimental artists and genres, like Caetano Veloso, who happens to be my favorite, which reassured me that I was apart of the thirty percent.
Almeida told me that, while in Paris, his band was sent to a hotel that wasn’t a hotel, it was someone’s house. They unknowingly entered the family’s’ home. The cops were called on them, and they were suspected as terrorists. In the end, everyone was fine. When I asked if any crazy shit had happened in America he responded, “Não– a América é legal, há menos confusão aqui” which translates to, “No– America is cool, there’s less confusion here.”