SXSW showcase reviews
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., March 19, 2010
BrownoutScoot Inn, Thursday, March 18
Brownout, the alter ego of the wildly successful, Grammy-nominated local Latin big band Grupo Fantasma, is Austin's premier funk mob. Mob is an apt description for them, too. Ten musicians – two guitars, three drummers, three horns, bass and keys – barreled through their allotted 40 minutes almost nonstop. Most impressive was the group's ability to shift from straight-up stomps to horn-driven Latin rhythms to cool, swaying vibes and back, drawing from influences including James Brown's the J.B's, Funkadelic, and 1970s acts like Malo and Mandrill effortlessly and with limitless soul and grit. Guitarists Adrian Quesada and Beto Martinez are marginally the bandleaders, and each drew on his inner Carlos Santana at times, flashing riffs and urging the freight-train combination of horns and percussion even higher. Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling and oddly manipulated video projected behind the band added to the party atmosphere, and by set's end, the crowd responded in kind, delirious with groove. With the relatively short set time, they were just beginning to break a sweat, but in Austin there's really no competition for Brownout's combination of superior musicianship and love for rocking the house.