SXSW 2013: Bajofondo @ Auditorium Shores Stage (Lady Bird Lake) NPR Music Showcase 03.14

Posted March 15, 2013 in

Bajofondo create a multi-national, multi-genre style of music. Photo: Alexander Ortega
Give a musical equation that describes the band’s sound.
Bajofondo = DeVotchKa ^ (Rasputina - vocals) + Benny Benassi * (Albert Kuvezin ± POS)
If you could make out with any instrument being played on stage, which one and why?
Bajofondo—a music collective with sometimes seven, sometimes eight members from Argentina and Uruguay—exude danceable compositions with a strong Roma undercurrent. A large portion of the Roma sound that Bajofondo stitch into their music comes from violinist Javier Casalla's. His violin was less visually attractive, and more alluring in terms of the way in which Casalla danced around with it and made his violin weep throughout the outside stage area. He and his instrument made me wish I had had training with a classical instrument.
Was the show inside or outside? Was it day or night?
The sun was winding down the day, as Bajofondo started in the late afternoon, and the grassy area looked like it went for miles to and from the outside stage area. Snippets of Spanish buzzed all around as people held daiquiris and margaritas (or daiquiri-margarita swirls!). I think Bajofondo would have been able to work the crowd a little more had they played later on in the evening. The crowd cheered after their songs, but the ambience for the style of music Bajofondo play—upbeat yet wistful string melodies amid dancey beats and electro-style bass—would have been more suited for less sun.
How was their stage presence?
Bajofondo has a  polished sense of how and when to move onstage. Pianist Luciano Supervielle bobbed his head as he struck the keys; Casalla lunged up and down has his bow moved to and fro. At one point, the drummer got a thick beat going, and frontman and guitarist Gustavo Santaolalla heralded his bandmates to get the crowd to start clapping along. As the audience followed suit, the stringed instruments cascaded into a dissonant, bend-sounding synergy of sound. I thought that it was quite remarkable that these artists can impel an audience to clap and form their own little dance enclaves, but play something that, by other standards, would be considered too cacophonic to be accessible beyond a music hall. Bajofondo does an excellent job of creating intelligent music for anyone and everyone.
Most memorable moment?
In one track, the band moved into a hip hop sequence along with Santaolalla belting out Albert Kuvezin–style kanzat kargyraa and Supervielle rapped and DJ scratched, and the chemistry between all these talents let the song flow seamlessly. ¡Bravo!
Bajofondo create a multi-national, multi-genre style of music. Photo: Alexander Ortega