On Foreign Soil: Batucada Sound Machine: Game Over Sydney! Auckland Wins!
Author: Carol Green (photography by Emma White)
Batucada Sound Machine showed the Aussies what they were made of when they played to crowds of over 10,000 at the Sydney Festival.
Batucada Sound Machine (or BSM), thought we’d show ’em over there what we can do over here, and they loved it! We played one gig each night for three nights on a floating barge in Darling Harbour, to crowds of over 10,000 people! Not quite the crowds that we have been used to, and probably the only gig we’ll ever play with life guards on stage! (Though perhaps when we are old and past it and have descended into the depths of cheese, we’ll be the house band on a cruise liner.)
The Sydney Festival obviously has lots of funding, so plenty of resources were made available to us, including a bus to transport us the 20 minute drive (which is, oddly, a five minute walk) from the stage to the hotel, up to the city clubs for gigs and after parties and to and from the airport. We had festival staff at our constant disposal and quickly got used to the luxury of being brought water and towels on stage, having beer and drinks provided backstage and comments like, "We’ll give you a call when we’ve set up all the gear".
Really, six months of that and you could easily get accustomed to the high life. The attractive plastic ponchos they supplied on the first night were a beautiful touch. The tropical rain fell in large lumps and the electricity to the stage was quickly cut to prevent major damage to us or the equipment - though some new, hardcore BSM fans braved the downpour to witness the chaos. All of these details conspired to make us realise we weren’t in DIY NZ any more!
We felt famous - in no small part due to the five metre high screens at either side of the stage, beaming Edwin’s conga faces across central Sydney and a sound system which made us sound like the band we have always dreamed of being. Mind you, the gear was only half of it - our sound engineer, the indispensable 'Le Gaz’ was a much envied accessory to our entourage.
The crowd was wound up successfully each night by a group of guys who were variously known as Armandito y su Mecanica or Son Veneno, depending on their actual line-up, who played a stonking blend of Cuban rhythms and hip hop in various mixtures. The sight of all the toned flesh of the 'in-between’ capoeira act (more 'capoeira on speed’ than we are used to in Auckland) certainly got me going, and the hype we got from the various MCs each evening made me wonder who this "aaawwwesome international group of musicians aaallll the way from New Zealand" was. Oh yes, that’s right... that’s us!