We attended the Thievery Corporation Concert at the Kennedy Center last week. It was a one night show and I was glad to get affordable tickets with great seats in the front orchestra!
We attended the first performance. It was the first time Thievery Corporation had played at the Kennedy Center. Their normal venues might be less-upscale concert halls. This performance was a collaborative effort with Mason Bates, the Kennedy Center’s Composer-in-Residence. It was part of the KC Jukebox, which is a studio-lab that experiments with blending acoustic sounds. This was the first time to my knowledge that Thievery Corporation had the accompaniment of a full symphonic orchestra. The conductor was Teddy Abrams, Director of the Louisville, KY Orchestra.
Before entering the concert hall, we enjoyed a glass of wine with nuts on the Concourse overlooking the Potomac River. The weather was gorgeous, sunny, 70’s and breezy. You almost didn’t want to go inside. I wish I had taken a picture but it wouldn’t capture it entirely. Here’s the Center Hall instead.
Upon entering the concert hall there was heavy bass, electronic music by 2 DJ’s out of Chicago, Striz and Justin Reed. The music was in keeping with Thievery Corporation’s style of mixed funk, hip-hop, ambient, soul, techno, lounge with an international-cultural-bent. After Mason Bates’ composition, The Rise of Exotic Computing, (with some Radiohead-phonic inspiration) was played by the NSO Orchestra along with a more classical Astor Piazzola (finale from Sinforietta), then the showstopper started.
I’ve been listening to Eric Hilton and Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation with their own genre of lounge-style-music for 20+ years but had never heard them live. I still enjoy their Jet Society CD they produced and the actual 18th Street Lounge DC venue, where I remember some of the best dancing to African-beat rythyms. Their music adapts and it never gets old. In fact, there were fans of all ages including those in my age group, who had even brought their teenage children for the next generation to discover Thievery. The symphonic arrangements only added to the full experience. They played a few of their classics like: Richest Man in Babylon, Sweet Tides, Lebanese Blonde (below – I love the sitar and trumpet mix with sultry singing) and others from their newest album, The Temple of I & I, which is heavily based on Jamaican beats.
This video gives real insight into their creative process while recording in KEXP studio in November 2016.
Here’s a great review of the performance we enjoyed from DC Metro Theater Arts, describing the perfect combination between club and concert hall. Everyone was dancing in their seat with lots of head-bobbing.
Here’s a composite of some video clips and photos I took of the performance.
There were so many good songs to share; however, you’ll see more professional versions in these below that present the songs in their best light. Both are sung by LouLou, who sings many of their songs and in other languages. Interestingly, the second video I recognize is filmed at the National Gallery of Art’s concourse. Cool!
You can view some behind the scenes photos from the concert on their Facebook Page.
Seeing the Depth of My Soul video. Makes me think of Scandinavia…
This audience photo by Rob Myers shows the view from the stage. This could have been after the second performance because I don’t recognize those who would be on the right side near us but I think I see myself, which is weird, and I remember them taking the picture.
Afterwards, we ate at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Restaurant, which was pretty good and then walked around the entire center on the rooftop terrace. It was such a lovely night that we’re considering becoming Kennedy Center members.
Catch Thievery Corporation at one of these upcoming tour dates. They’ll steal you away from the present surreal-real world, at least for a little while, with their music.
In the meantime, you can go to the 18th Street Lounge, where Thievery Corporation got their start, and is the namesake to their affiliate ESL record label. You can also enjoy some of the many restaurants around town owned by Eric and his brother, Ian Hilton. The Brighton is the latest, coming to the exciting Wharf Development this fall, along with other venues. But for now, The new Pod Hotel will host their Crimson Diner and View (opening in June & July) — another place to enjoy a good drink and dinner! Looks like a great view of the city too on the rooftop!