The electronic, worldly music of Eric Hilton and Rob Garza’s Thievery Corporation entranced fans at the Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 15, 2019 with chill and electrifying vibes.
The band has been going since 1996 and have evolved their sound with the countries they’ve been inspired by. Prominently, Jamaican and Brazilian music are two influential styles that can be heard in their trip-hop tunes. Thievery Corp’s opening band Brazilian Girls prepared concert goers for the performance to come with their feel-good song “Pussy, Pussy Marijuana,” which lead singer Sabina Sciubba told is indicative of the Las Vegas experience.
After the wild opening band, people showed excitement over the opening song, “Until the Morning,” and danced through the night to such songs as “The Heart’s a Lonely Hunter,” “Warning Shots,” “The Richest Man in Babylon,” “Amerimacka,” and of course their biggest hit, “Lebanese Blonde.”
Thievery Corp has a very diverse sound. Never having seen them before in person, I was only familiar with their recorded material and I wasn’t sure what to expect. In 2004 I discovered them on the soundtrack from the movie “Garden State” and was instantly intrigued by the unique integration of bass, electronic beats, and most notably, sitar. The sitar is not typically seen in genres other than world music or acid rock so there is a visible look of excitement and sense of enchantment by the crowd when Thievery Corp’s guitarist Rob Myers picks up the Hindustani instrument. When Myers got into the groove it felt as if you were transcending. The sound of the sitar is one that I really appreciated in Thievery Corp’s Sunday night performance.
Another energetic member that was stunning to watch on stage was Ashish “Hash” Vyas on the electric bass. Hash marched around the stage, barefoot and showed an unwavering concentration at what he was doing. You could tell that he was truly jamming and vibing with the band. The eclectic artist’s energy was contagious throughout the entire performance.
There are several contributing vocalists apart of Thievery Corp as well. Reggae style vocals were delivered by “Puma,” Loulou Ghelichkhani, Natalia Clavier, Mr. Lif, and my favorite, Kingston born singer Raquel Jones. Jones blew the crowd away with her talented rapping about revolutionary topics. In the Thievery Corp tune “Letter to the Editor,” Jones sang “pocket full a promises, baby empty bellies, poverty and democracies and political rallies. But who the rich a lobby for, using me for votes? Pretend to me you’re sorry for, then win and it’s a joke. I’m sick of trick or treaters in costumes disguised as leaders. Charismatic public speakers, false prophets and fake healers.” Jones certainly spoke the truth and the crowd loved her for it.
Despite Thievery Corp being Hilton and Garza’s project, they kept a low profile in the back of the stage. Their group’s singers and fellow instrumentalists spoke to the crowd and engaged at the front of the stage while they jammed on percussion and electric drum pads. They are the source that keeps this one of a kind group going. Garza says, “what inspires us to continue to create this genre of sound is the broad spectrum of collaborators and audience members it continues to draw. We have been extremely privileged to work with artists of all cultural, social and political backgrounds, and our fans display even greater diversity and age differences.” What Garza says is true. Looking out into the crowd on Sunday, one could see that this type of music really brought a broad range people together, which is something truly special.
Overall, it is obvious from the band’s attitude that they are happy to be an underground band that is representative of people from varying walks of life and without having to conform to the demands of the music industry. Making music with freedom of expression and odes to the many beautiful cultures of the world is what makes Thievery Corporation the powerful and beloved band they have been for 23 years. If you didn’t catch them this time, don’t fret. Thievery Corp has plans for more music in the coming years and will likely come to Las Vegas for a concert again in the future.