Spend a day with Thievery Corporation’s Eric Hilton and Rob Garza and you will see that their thoughtful curiosity about the world finds its way into their sophisticated, impeccably crafted musical soundscapes that reflect not only their broad appreciation for diverse styles of music (everything from Brazilian bossa nova and Jamaican dub reggae to vintage film soundtracks and psychedelic space rock), but also their take on the complicated times in which we live.
GO ON SALE SATURDAY, APRIL 21 @ 10:00 AM
Since banding together 16 years ago, these two independent thinkers have taken a DIY approach to their musical and cultural interests, which has led to the formation of their own record label, ESL Music, through which Thievery Corporation release recordings by a slew of international artists, such as Federico Aubele, Ursula 1000, and Thunderball, as well as their own recordings. The label is run out of the basement of a Gothic-style three-level townhouse in Washington, D.C., that is also home to Thievery Corporation’s recording studio, which is filled with the latest high-tech gear as well as vintage guitars and Moog keyboards. The studio is where the two songwriters and producers have crafted their own output: six studio albums, three compilations, and numerous EP’s and singles — an impressive body of diverse work that has made Thievery Corporation one of the most influential and respected names on the electronic/dance music scene.
In June of 2011, the duo released its sixth studio album, Culture of Fear — a cinematic-sounding inquiry into space rock that straddles the sweet spot between funk and soul, with a bit of dub and reggae thrown in for good measure. Culture of Fear continues to address the socially conscious themes that Thievery Corporation have explored since 2002 when they released their third studio album, The Richest Man in Babylon, which incorporated protest music into their sound.
They followed Babylon with 2005’s The Cosmic Game, which featured politically minded collaborations with Perry Farrell, Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne, and David Byrne. In 2008, the duo paid homage to people’s resistance movements around the world with Radio Retaliation — setting a think-for-yourself agenda to eclectic sounds from Jamaica, Latin America, Asia, and The Middle East. The album, which questioned the profit-driven mentality of corporate media, earned Thievery Corporation a Grammy Award nomination for Best Recording Packaging. (An image of Mexican revolutionary Subcomandante Marcos appears on its printed cardboard sleeve cover.)
“We’re probably more radical in our political beliefs than most of the hardcore punk bands,” Hilton says, “but at the same time, we’re realistic about what we can actually do. We feel like our role is to be commentators.” Adds Garza: “The best thing we can do is try to open people’s minds.” For both Hilton and Garza, the seeds for their shared philosophy were sown while growing up near the nation’s capital, which has spawned an abundance of progressive punk bands over the years, such as Bad Brains, Minor Threat, and Fugazi. “We’re influenced by that mentality, but the music doesn’t need to be about super aggressive guitars or hard-charging beats to convey that feeling,” Hilton says. “Sometimes you can just break things down and be more subtle.” Instead, the duo reveal their globally aware mindset by setting their lyrical diatribes to a lush mélange of international grooves, inviting vocalists and musicians from around the world, including Nigerian Afrobeat heir Femi Kuti, Persian singer Lou Lou, and Jamaican reggae toaster Sleepy Wonder, to appear on their recordings. As the L.A. Weekly put it: “Thievery Corporation’s dance hall is a delectably subversive refuge for dissent, a multilingual broadside against complacency and the powers that be.”
Over the years, Thievery Corporation has also become known for the carnival-esque atmosphere of their live shows, during which they bring out a 15-member live band of musicians and vocalists. The group has sold out shows at such famed venues as Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the Hollywood Bowl, London’s 02 Shepherds Bush Empire, and the Theatro Vrahon Melina Merkouri in Athens, Greece, among many others. “To see Lou Lou, a Persian singer singing in Farsi, as America debates on a war with Iran, on stage with band members from all corners of the earth singing in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and so on, it makes people wonder,” Garza says. “And if you can get people to question the things around them, even just a little bit, that’s not such a bad thing.”
Tickets are $42.50 GA ADV and $45.00 GA DOS plus applicable service charges.
A VIP ticket is also available: $75.00.