T o walk through the front door of the Opera House and get blown back by the pummelling onslaught of canned latin disco blasting out of the club sound system was unusual enough.
But the truly strange part was seeing 400 people inside the joint shaking ass and hollering in unison to the DJ's thumping selections. Dancing at the Opera House? How bizarre. It was as though the entire weekend crowd from Momentos had been hijacked and relocated to Queen East for the night.
The bouncy club bump provided a seamless introduction to Caracas kooks Los Amigos Invisibles, whose new album, Arepa 3000: A Venezuelan Journey Into Space (Virgin), is a throwback to late-70s disco.
Still chasing retro trends rather than leading them, Los Amigos have traded the acid jazz and funk sound of their lounge-inspired previous record, The New Sound Of Venezuelan Gozadera (Luaka Bop), for the Parisian house conservatism of rinôçérôse>>.
Rather than the expected Hammond-greased salsadelic sizzle that could launch into merengue overdrive at any given moment, Amigos drummer Juan Manuel Roura held a steady 4/4 whump throughout, only altering the tempo slightly. No radical rhythmic variations were forthcoming.
Perhaps inspired by the enthusiastic crowd who seemed to know all the words to Los Amigos' doggy-style anthem Ponerte En Cuatro, the group bounced around excitedly every second or third jam. All the activity led keyboadist Armando Figueredo to remove his shirt -- although, with his bony physique, it seemed less a macho move than a desperate plea for food.
Even with the high-energy output, things got boring fast when every new song came backed with the same beat. A forgettable run at a cover of Mañana's 1980 disco hit Amor ended the evening with the sound of gnashing teeth.
LOS AMIGOS INVISIBLES, at the Opera House, August 1. Tickets: $15. Attendance: 400. Rating: NNN