Live Review: Garotas Suecas @ Bumbershoot 9/6

photo courtesy of Bumbershoot

Monday 2.15pm
Fisher Green Stage

With a name that sounds like but definitely does not mean “Garroting Suckers,” Sao Paulo’s finest Swedish Girls (that’s their name in Portuguese) could easily be mistaken for a nihilistic hardcore band.

But once the five-guys-and-one-girl six-piece take to the stage, there’s absolutely no way of mistaking them for any band nihilistic, hardcore, or otherwise. All are affable, polite, and exude Brazilian sunshine and soul, funk and carioca rhythm.

Opening with the down-and-dirty garage rock of “Corina,” lead singer Guilherme Saldanha, dressed in gray trousers, a black shirt, and jacket, resembles a trendy physics professor that badly needs a haircut.

“Ghostwriter” that follows is more in keeping with the casual Brazilian funk that the Garotas are known for. Guilherme then offers, “We’re singing in Portuguese, that’s why you’re not understanding the words” as a half-explanation, half-apology, but with beach samba party melodies and Sao Paulo rock ‘n’ roll this good, everyone in the audience stopped caring about understanding the words ten seconds into the first song.

The band then play “Tudo Bem” from their latest album release, Escaldante Banda, and with its laidback, breezy, tropical chorus, it was clearly birthed under skies somewhere other than the overcast ones overhead.

Garotas Suecas probably attracts the most eclectic and dancey crowd of the festival. One guy near the stage violently flaps his arms while dancing like he’s about to take off, and another has brought his own maracas. Large pockets of people in the audience can’t help but dance to the Garotas’ sunny blend of 1950s soul and modern rock ‘n’ roll.

Guilherme then joyfully announces that “it’s time for a little gym class!” and proceeds to bust out the lawnmower dance but unfortunately only manages three strokes. Stretching beforehand is crucial Guilherme. Towards the end of the show “Codinome Dinamite,” one of their best loved songs, is very well received by the rapidly growing crowd and has all feet in attendance dancing happy and happily dancing in the Seattle drizzle.

High: Garotas Suecas’ secret weapon in their set is their lively, Latin-inspired take on the Grateful Dead’s cover of Otis Redding’s ‘Hard To Handle’. It’s unbelievably good.

Low: Strangely the band never actually get to the chorus of “Hard To Handle” and just repeat the first verse over and over again.

In a Tweet: The Swedish Girls’ melange of classic American rock ‘n’ roll and Motown soul is more refreshing than free iced water at a Sao Paulo igloo emporium.

Did you witness the Brazilian magic of Garotas Suecas? What was your highlight? Share your thoughts with KEXP in the Comments section below!

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