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General Jam: A Tribute To Tropicália

Pikelet, Paeces, Bum Creek, Sophia Brous, Koko-Nuts, Jens Lekman, Francis Plagne.

Saturday October 24, 2009 at 02:00 PM
Audience:  18 and over
ACMI, Federation Square
Federation Square, Melbourne
VIC, 3000, Australia.
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General Jam: A Tribute To Tropicália

A trio of art-school brats schmearing iSnack 2.0 on their cheeks while singing 'Advance Australia Fair'. It’s probably not the kind of thing Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso envisaged when they dreamt up Tropicália – the Brazilian fine arts movement – in the late 1960s, but at least Bum Creek were being true to the movement’s incessant radicalism. Or were they? The band’s take on two songs from the movement’s musical manifesto – ‘Panis et Circensis’ by Os Mutantes and Tom Zé’s ‘Parque Industrial’ – at a Melbourne International Arts Festival event seemed deliberately provocative, juvenile and ill-conceived.

Instead of paying homage to the source material, Bum Creek took a match to it, fucking around with vocoders, hammers and all manner of gimmicks until the songs were virtually unrecognisable save for a few notes here and there. Aside from some vague allusions to Tropicália’s satirical take on nationalism and a nod to Zé when “singer” Tarquin Manek took a hammer to the mic, there was nothing reverential about their performance. It wasn’t even in the spirit of Tropicália, which contrary to the band’s (mis)conceptions, was a movement with depth and purpose; not merely art for art’s sake.

In fairness, Bum Creek were given a lot of latitude by the event’s M.O, which asked local artists to “reinterpret” (not simply recreate) songs from 1968 concept album Tropicália: ou Panis et Circensis, prior to a screening of a BBC documentary and a film from that era. Other artists were more faithful in their renderings, but that’s not to say they played it safe. Pikelet used her trademark loops to great effect on Gilberto Gil’s ‘Miserere Nóbis’, Paeces turned Caetano Veloso’s ‘Coração Materno’ into an apocalyptic dirge, while Francis Plagne studiously rearranged Veloso’s ‘Enquanto Seu Lobo Não Vem’ and Gal Costa’s ‘Mamãe, Coragem’ to suit his fragile voice. Sophia Brous (the artist formerly known as “Sophie”) stole the show with Nara Leao’s ‘Lindonéia’, navigating the song’s tricky phrasing in near-perfect Portuguese. Later, she traded verses with Swedish crooner Jens Lekman on ‘Baby’, proving that simplicity can so often trump spectacle in the entertainment stakes.

by Darren Levin

Your Comments

blake3030  said about 5 years ago:

It wasn’t even in the spirit of Tropicália, which contrary to the band’s (mis)conceptions, was a movement with depth and purpose; not merely art for art’s sake.


Bum Creek were terrible. I could only laugh in disbelief at how fucking wrong they got it.

The whole event did seem a little like it was thrown together at the last-minute. But all of the other artists did a good job.

Bum Creek  said about 5 years ago:

Hi Folks

Thanks for your ideas. in the hersuit of a pure essence of bum we thought to share some of our research aponce the topic which lead to this disasthillerious perforpoor man stance.
below ist the research (amongst other human arguments) that we based our cannabalistic take on song parque industrial. Bum am i glad. Please refer all other complaints to the melbourne festival and answers will be made through our media liason officer.


darryl pandy
- bum creek media officer

''the song lyrics heavily satirise the industrialialisation developmentalist - nationalist projects adopted as the salvation of brazil:

Pois temos o sorriso engarrafado
Já vem pronto e tabelado
É somente requentar
E usar,
É somente requentar
E usar,
Porque é made, made, made, made in Brazil.
Porque é made, made, made, made in Brazil.

Well we now have smiles In Bottles
they come ready made and priced up
Just reheat
and enjoy
because its made made made in brazil

The instrumental arrangement is by turns playful (reinforcing the wit of the lyrics) and mockingly triumphalist,
in the military marching band style that pervades the song and is intensified in the refrain.
Duprat also inserts phrases fron the Brazilian National Anthem, which he alternates with a quote from an advertising jingle
for the painkiller Melhoral.
The song reflects the rich texture of the sound in the album as a whole: for example there are also backround noises of the happy cries of children in an amusement park, which seem to refer to and critique the official mantra of building a great future for brazil' s children.
The track ends with the sound of wild applause, but in the context of the song's commentary, this applause sounds hollow and seems more of an ironic comment on blinkered national pride and the failure of the developmentalist thrust to change the lives of the majority of Brazilians.'' -- (veloso and the regeneration of tradition by lorraine leu)

__v  said about 5 years ago:

given a wide berth

Given a wide brief, perhaps?

Yours etc,

Bum Creek  said about 5 years ago:

no brief what so ever
self fortified

blake3030  said about 5 years ago:

I do like your band name.

josejones  said about 5 years ago:

am glad bum creek knew what they were doing, because nobody else did.

Dzap  said about 5 years ago:

The whole event did seem a little like it was thrown together at the last-minute.

I agree with that. In fact, the (free) documentary was the highlight for whole ''Brazilian day'' (with Garotas Suecas at the Forum) was a bit weak.

Oh, and Sophia Brous did a great job, but her Portuguese was nowhere near perfect =)

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