Brazil – we have shock news for you – isn’t all sequins and feathers. Yes, Brazilica Festival is about to shake a tail one or two next month and, yeah, we love a sequin at SevenStreets. But, when the parade has passed, there is much, much more to get excited about if you’re after a real touch of Latin spirit this year.
Liverpool’s Latin American roots are deep and strong – and Brazilica bounces of those connections brilliantly, with a riot of events destined to spice up the city when it sambas through the streets of Liverpool for three days in July.
Britain’s biggest Latin-tinged street party, it’s another example of what we do best: fun, free, all-welcome parties that ignite the sidewalks of the city.
But, as ever, if you want to know where the real fun is, you gotta dig a little deeper. Playing a sultry, gritty São Paulo to the festival’s camera-ready Rio, the Brazilica Fringe is the pulsing, authentic heart to this sub-tropical showdown.
There’s a carnival ball at Kazimier, featuring afrobeat, reggae and funk to a hot and sweaty crowd, with some Brazilian martial arts thrown in – expect, according to the boys at Rebel Soul, a ceremony in the newly opened Kazimier secret garden (Through doors and across chequered lawns they descend into the underworld where rhythms of sacred drums and bells, the electric dance of ecstasy, offerings and sacrifices await. The good, the great, the humble and the divine will divest themselves of their worldly goods and enter a twilight place of dusk and shadows in the realm of the voodoo spirits…)
But for our Real, the most tantalising date of them all has to be Voodoohop: a freewheeling event that’s part party, part spiritual conversion, and the latest mutation of the Brazilian Tropicalist movement – which, since the late 60s, has been fusing theatre, poetry, music and dance to create something a touch more technicolour than your average club night.
Liverpool promoter Evol, with the Brazilica Fringe, has organised something of a coup, inviting São Paulo’s most explosive party to our city. And, as Ladytron’s Daniel Hunt (who can be regularly spotted alongside the Tropic of Capricon) says, it’s going to be something of a spectacle.
“From its beginnings in a dive bar in São Paulo’s red light street of Rua Augusta, Voodhoohop quickly became a scene of unconventional art, music and hedonism,” Hunt says. “Over time the parties have grown, occupying larger venues in the old center of Sao Paulo. I’ve played records at Voodoohop quite a few times, and it’s unlike any party I’ve ever witnessed.”
São Paulo, a city of 20 million, is essentially the New York of the Southern Hemisphere. A bubbling cauldron of beats and creativity that proudly defies convention. A bit like ourselves. It’s from this hothouse that this travelling band of Brazilian Neo-Tropicalist DJ’s, artists and musicians arrives – first off, they’re taking over Bier on Newington, on Thursday night. But that’s just a warm up for what’s to follow.
The core unit of a party that’s been illuminating the nights of São Paulo for the last four years, the Voodoohop gang might only be here for one night. But they plan to make an indelible mark on us all.
Irregular, nomadic and sporadic, the events take over temporary spaces, from abandoned buildings to car parks (they have climate on their side down there), cemeteries to strip clubs. True to the original aims of Tropicalism, each night fuses ‘spontaneous situationism and spectacle’, with a musical soundtrack provided by laptop warriors, live performers, DJs and percussion artists. And the soundtrack? An intoxicating mutation of Brazilian, African and Rock’n’Roll rhythms. But, we warn you, at least one of the performers is promising an “open ritual-event assimilating all kind of cries and whispers that exist. Sound resulting of polymorphic positions, acoustic instruments, crazy clothes and masks. Sensorial explosions, colors, movements, instincts without technique…”
What? No sequins?
“The regular incarnation, up a disused bauhaus office block in the old centre reminded me, in spirit, of Berlin’s Mitte in the late 90s,” Hunt says, “Music that I couldn’t play to any other dancefloor in the world can fill it at Voodoo.”
So what can we expect, we wonder?
“São Paulo absorbs threads of input from elsewhere and always outputs something unique,” Hunt says, “it’s like an alternate reality. Like Os Mutantes on the set of Bladerunner.”
Various venues, 13-15 July