On this sweaty, hazy night, two bands with mostly gringo players but decidedly non-Western influences viewed 1960s psych, funk, and soul through different perspectives. Chicha Libre filtered all-world pop through the Peruvian barrio genre mash known as “chichi,” while Dengue Fever cranked a sweltering blend of R&B, surf, and Cambodian pop.
Dengue Fever + Chicha LibreCity: Northampton, MA
Venue: The Iron Horse
How hot can you stand it? On this sweaty, hazy night, two bands turned up the psych-grooving heat. Their mostly gringo players channeled American-style 1960s psych, funk, and soul through wildly exotic perspectives. Chicha Libre filtered all-world pop through the Peruvian barrio genre mash known as “chichi,” while Dengue Fever cranked out a sweltering blend of R&B, surf, and Cambodian pop. To swipe a phrase from Dorothy: Toto, we are definitely not in Kansas anymore. We know this immediately because the stage looks like Tito Puente’s rec room, crowded with congas, timbales, tom toms, cowbells, and cymbals. There’s a little room left at the side for an accordion, skinny acoustic bass, and a guitar, but not much. The six members of Chicha Libre clamber onto the stage in various kinds of hats, from full-on cowboy toppers to more modest Panamas. Co-founder Olivier Conan is clutching a tiny cuatro, a toy-like guitar that would fit neatly into two large, outstretched hands. Joshua Camp has not brought his hybrid accordion/vox organ tonight, but instead plays a full-fledged accordion. Chicha Libre began as a band when Conan returned from Peru a few years ago, bearing bags full of cassette tapes containing the underground style known as “chicha.” The songs bubbled like a polyglot stew of influences, incorporating surf, psych, afro-beat, and Peruvian cumbia. Admiring the style became playing the style. Before you knew it, Conan, who co-owns Barbes (a Brooklyn club) with Chicha Libre guitarist Vincent Douglas, was holding regular Monday night chicha sessions at the establishment. Up until recently, you had to travel to New York to hear this music. Safe to say, no one has ever played chicha in Northampton before.