Seen on July 6, 2016 @ National Arts Festival, Grahamstown
Did I ever tell you about the time we were in India and an archbishop invited us upstairs in his mansion for a sitar concert? With an erudity of Indian classical music and the performer dressed in his cloak our expectations were very high. We took a seat and so did he, armored with a beautiful instrument. Our ears ready to indulge the sound of the sitar. He did play. Jinggle bells, and only half of it…
The anticipation for Mateo Mera playing the sitar was similar. Intrigued by the advertisement where you see multi-instrumentalist deeply concentraded playing the Indian instrument apparently made a lot of older musical adventurers long for the ancient sounds of India.
Mateo Mera welcomes the audience jolly and then disappears again, only to come back barefoot and with his sitar.He does play. Beautifully. Our hearts are back in India. For the second song he is joined by his friends Gonzalo Dias, Rogelio Lago and Rodrigo Baeza, who make out the band and continue in the same raga mood and add some beautiful singing.
But all the way from Uruguay the band’s interest is larger than India. “Do you like rock ‘n roll?” asks Mateo. Wahwah’s, distortion and fat bass loops indicate the joie de vivre of these young friends. They play a lot of genres, licked, fast and funky. Variations on the same theme that proof that the band can rock!
The show is full of surprises in moods, swopping instruments and even a self made bass suitcase (a travelling suitcase converted to a bass drum you can kick with pedals). Sad lovesongs and uptempo rockers, a beautiful cover of Here Comes the Son, a late night street busking one man orchestra, ballads, Spanish vocals and a piano rocker à la Queen, culminating in a grand finale where the band gives their all, good clean fun, surprising rock ‘n roll and harmonious vocals and even some rap from drummer … make the party complete.
For the friends it is a dream come true. They love music and their excitement travels a long way.
Photography: CuePix/ Dani O’Neill – National Arts Festival 2016