Mellow bacchanalia may sound like a contradiction in terms, but that’s precisely the territory that the Brazilian Girls have staked out over the past several years, and never more enticingly than on their recently released Verve Forecast album “New York.” Not surprisingly, this homecoming perf concentrated on songs from that disc, which distills the essence of 21st-century Gotham – a polyglot place that’s poles apart from the New York of Lou Reed or the Ramones with a surplus of sensual warmth.
The quartet, augmented on a few songs by the Himalayas brass band, has always traded on its ability to play a tug of war with electronic sounds (the purview of keyboardist Didi Gutman) and organic rhythms redolent of the land from which it takes its name. On this evening, the balance tilted more towards the latter, lending a charming bossa nova lilt to “Boy” and an earthy musk to an extended “Don’t Stop.”
Singer Sabina Sciubba, always central to furthering the Girls’ uninhibited vibe, certainly did her part here, slinking and strutting about the stage clad in her usual body hugging body stocking – a sartorial decision that was intriguing, given the fact that she’s five months pregnant. Sciubba certainly ratcheted back some of her more callisthenic moves, but she still injected plenty of eros into smoldering takes on “Jique” and “Good Time.”
Set’s pacing was flawless, with a smattering of slinky interludes – like the cabaret-tinged “Berlin” and the trance-jazz number “Sexy Ass” — cutting through the super-heated atmosphere with cool precision. That ability to shift from libidinous to languid – and from one musical land to another — gives the Brazilian Girls a solid claim to the title of the only dance band that matters.