This past weekend I had the opportunity to see Céu, a great Brazilian artist who has, fortunately, already seen some success outside of Brazil. I heard about her just a few days before the show, when my girlfriend told me she was coming to Rio to perform at Circo Voador, a nice venue in Lapa, which is a neighborhood as famous for its nightlife as it is for its impressive arches that often appear in tourist brochures touting Rio’s attractions.
Lapa is also very gritty. The streets are always packed on the weekend nights, and any night out in Lapa includes wading through crowds of people mulling about and venders selling street food and beer. Taking a long walk through the crowd is now almost unavoidable in light of a recent decision to close off Lapa’s main roads at night for pedestrians only. Of course, this is part of the fun of going out in Lapa, and surrounding you the whole time are the old buildings that give the neighborhood its unique feel.
On Saturday, we made our way through the arches and lingered outside the venue for a good half-hour, chatting with some friends from São Paulo who happened to be in town and came to see the show. I took in my surroundings and remembered the other shows I have seen at Circo Voador. Many venues are too big, too small, too loud or too quiet. But Circo Voador is different. Its size is small enough for a great, intimate show, and even though they attract many people to see a variety of Brazilian and foreign bands, the place never gets so packed that you can’t wander up to the front to get a better view – and you’ll still have room to dance!
We wandered in as a DJ warmed up the crowd by playing a wide array of music, from 50s American classics to Ethiopian jazz. After we had time to grab some drinks, dance a bit and chat, Céu went on stage. In the U.S., her entrance would be considered very late, but late seems to be the norm here in Brazil. In the U.S., I’ve been to concerts that ended around 10 or 11, but Céu, for example, went on around 12:30 or 1 in the morning.
When Céu started her first song, her energy was palpable. She danced around the stage happily, and she displayed her powerful vocals from the first notes of the Brazilian jazz, samba, and R&B songs that define her style. The five-piece band comprised Céu on vocals, a drummer, a bassist/guitarist, a DJ and a keyboard/accordion player. The mix of instruments was well-balanced, and they created a full, deep sound that had everybody – even the wallflowers – dancing to the beats. I recognized some songs that my girlfriend and I had listened to before the show, and Céu is an artist that backs up her well-produced albums with a great live performance.
Her repertoire was very upbeat and smooth, and there were no real lulls in the show. She sticks to songs with very strong bass lines and doesn’t seem to have any ballads, so the energy was consistent and the pace of the show was fast. One small highlight for me was when she played an excellent cover of Bob Marley’s “Concrete Jungle” – which I had happily come across on Youtube before the show. As the show progressed, people got drunker and louder, and even after she had finished her first set, thanked the audience and come back on stage for an encore, people were still asking for more. She laughed a bit and told the crowd that she was out of songs to perform for the night. She stayed on stage for a bit, trying to think of a song that she could perform, and she eventually thought of one to close out the set and end the night.
Overall, her show was fantastic, and it displayed her voice, range of styles and the balance of the instruments very well. I highly suggest you go to a show of hers if you have the chance. She’s going to be in Germany fairly soon, and she just finished up a tour of the U.S. that ended in April.
Céu’s myspace: http://www.myspace.com/ceumusic
Her Wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Céu
Her latest album, Vagarosa, on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Vagarosa-Dig-Ceu/dp/B002BVUBR8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1284420450&sr=8-2
Kyle Rolnick fell in love with traveling at a young age while touring the U.S. crammed into an old minivan with his large family. That love has taken him all over the world, including a year-long stay in India.
After graduating from college, he worked at a law firm in San Francisco and then moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he arrived speaking not a word of Portuguese, ready to tackle yet another new city.
He still resides there, teaching English to a variety of students, including those preparing to enter the Instituto Rio Branco, Brazil’s only school of diplomacy. In his free time, Kyle likes to read and make music. You can find his work at www.myspace.com/kylerolnick.
Kyle is a native of Madison, Wisconsin and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.