Indoor Fireworks

Black Joe and Grupo Fantasma bang on into 2011

Black Joe, blurry before midnight
Black Joe, blurry before midnight (by Jim Caligiuri)

There were fireworks all over Austin on New Year's Eve, but the musical explosions provided by Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears and Grupo Fantasma at a sold-out La Zona Rosa were likely the most rewarding.

Lewis opened with a set heavy on songs from his heavily anticipated new disc, Scandalous (Lost Highway), due mid-March. While not a dramatic jump from his previous work, it’s even rawer in spots, owing to its gritty Otis Redding influences and the occasional lifting of Sly Stone’s horn charts. The new, flashy blues of “You Been Lyin’” was particularly electric mid-set, but the closing trio of older songs (“Bitch, I Love You,” “I’m Broke,” and “Sugarfoot”) sent the crowd into overdrive, especially when every member of Grupo Fantasma joined in for the finale, the mega horn section hard boppin’ while Lewis traded guitar sparks with Adrian Quesada.

At the stroke of midnight, Grupo took the stage and immediately showed their versatility with a Spanglish version of the Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House.” From there it was nearly two hours of swirling horns, psychedelic guitar fuzz, and bubbling rhythms from the big band's entire catalog. Highlights included the experimental funk of “Telarana,” as well as the cumbia “Rebotar,” which featured an especially volatile percussion break. The crowd thinned by set’s end, but that was probably due more to being worn out by the energy of the evening and the fact that it was a hard partying New Year’s Eve, rather than a reflection on the music. For me, it was a heavenly paring of two of Austin’s most dynamic bands, the kind that should happen more often, making every night a holiday.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Black Joe Lewis
MP3: Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears
MP3: Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears
Live on Woxy: Gritty, Groovy, and Gettin' It

Austin Powell, April 29, 2009

More Grupo Fantasma
Grupo Fantasma Melts <i>Austin City Limits</i>
Grupo Fantasma Melts Austin City Limits
Latin hornographers’ second PBS taping pulls out all the stops

Raoul Hernandez, June 29, 2016

Grupo Fantasma’s Quinceañera
Grupo Fantasma’s Quinceañera
And you thought you had Problemas

Thomas Fawcett, Oct. 29, 2015

More by Jim Caligiuri
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Her father's death and daughter's birth upped the stakes of the singer's finest work

April 14, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
Soft Boys, Youngbloods, Moby Grape, Brian Jones’ grandson, etc.

March 18, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Black Joe Lewis, Grupo Fantasma

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle