Songlines intern Rebbecca Neofitou checks back in with us while in Rio de Janeiro with the London-based samba ensemble, Rhythms of the City
Before we left London, it was confirmed that we were to be the support act for Monobloco at Circo Voador and finally, the week leading up to it was upon us! We knew it was going to be hard work given that this would be one of our biggest gigs yet and the week was full of rehearsal time. Monobloco had very kindly lent us their studios in Botafogo to practice in and we got down to serious work. Over the course of the weeks, we had seen large posters on billboards with our names, advertising our stint with Monobloco so we knew this was not going to be our average gig…
We arrived at Circo Voador for an early sound check and watched Monobloco rehearsing their set. Before I even entered the venue I could hear them, but the quality of their playing made me think I was listening to a recording. Circo Voador, which literally means ‘flying circus’ is a big tent, so there is no escape from the heat. Combined with the hot lights, the sound check alone was very sweaty and we were due to encounter all of that again whilst sharing the space with 3,000 people in the audience.
As we all walked on stage, there were so many expectant eyes staring up at us. Most of them had come to see Monobloco, but our varied set meant they fell in love with us and us with them. We opened with ‘Ritmos da Cidade,’ which was written for us by Gabriel Lopes of Monobloco, and followed on with our bateria versions of modern pop, Motown, soca, salsa and of course, traditional samba.
Our rendition of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ was complete with zombie dance routine and during the soca, our dancers taught the audience the moves. The smiles on all the faces were so wonderful to see. The crowd went wild when Monobloco frontman, Fabão Allman, joined us for two traditional samba songs.
We came off stage on such a high. Everyone was hot, sweaty and laughing with joy. There were shouts of “Parabéns!” from everyone, which means ‘congratulations.’ It was easily one of the best gigs I’ve ever performed. Monobloco kindly asked us to join them for their last few songs. We performed the last song of the night in the audience, jumping down from the stage one by one with our instruments and walking through the crowd. It was such a fabulous show and a memory that will never be forgotten.
On behalf of Rhythms of the City, I would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year!