With the cryptically entitled “Super Sancocho Variety,” self-labeled “party band” and South American transplants Los Amigos Invisibles have launched weekly Venezuelan parties onto the NYC scene. Clad in ’70s-style garb, guitarist José Luis Pardo and lead singer Julio Briceño took turns in the DJ booth at Void last Thursday, playing songs that ranged from funk to salsa, with forays into drum’n’bass, acid jazz, and lounge music. “We want to mix people, mix music,” says Pardo, carefully packing away an LP. Like the recipe for the soup it’s named after, in which Venezuelans pile every leftover to be found in their kitchen, the Sancocho is a hodgepodge of musical genres. For readers familiar with the hot Latin-style dancing of the band’s ’70s disco shows, don’t expect the sizzling excitement of those concerts. This lounge party’s vibe is laid-back and low-key.
Pardo and Briceño, a/k/a DJ Afro and DJ Chulius, were spinning the latest vinyl they bought for their ever growing collection of musical influences, while the rest of LAI mingled with the crowd. It’s part of the band’s greater scheme to hit New York—where they are still little fish in a big pond—with the same combination of parties and concerts that built their success back home. “Our idea [is] to have a good time, meet friends, [and] do parties where we spin everything,” says Pardo.
And he does mean everything. There were enough genres to satisfy most musical taste buds at Void last week. A dreamy, spaced-out electronica interlude followed some livelier bossa nova and sets of funk tunes reminiscent of the Blues Brothers. When DJ Chulius secured the turntables, the music quickly took on a more Latin flavor. Between the multimedia lounge’s usual crowd, plus NYU grads with their parents and a bunch of South Americans, a variety of people from different age brackets packed the bar. A few New Yorkers even danced on the tiny stage, while others took to the couches, transfixed by the artsy videos flashing on the background screen.
After New York’s daily grind, the lounge’s surprisingly chilled-out sound was a welcome change, allowing people to socialize or soak up the atmosphere. The music would have been perfect in a club as a fun alternative to the inevitable techno. Yet one cannot help but feel that the band’s live music, with its trademark retro disco style and racy, self-mocking lyrics, has more energy to it than the DJ party. After this first round, the Amigos have promised to spice things up with jam sessions and Venezuelan memorabilia and videos especially prepared for the occasion. But for full-fledged funk and bogus Latin-lover attitude, LAI’s upcoming concerts at the Bowery Ballroom on June 8 and 9 are where the party really begins.