Gig review: Molotov Jukebox @ Thekla 22/4/16
by Polly Hember
Molotov Jukebox are embarking on their Tropical Gypsy Tour, following the release of the eponymous album earlier this month. The gypsy set outfit came to Bristol’s Thekla, bringing with them the feeling of glorious tropical summer sunshine. An exotic fruit and flower garland, pink shorts and Hawaiian shirts weren’t the only things that felt summery – the band’s vibrant energy and brilliant calypso rhythms transformed Thekla into a tropical dancing deluge of good times and great music.
Their eclectic sound has previously been described as “gypstep”, in some effort to describe the inventive and innovative sound of the London based band. Their 2014 Carnival Flower brought together all sorts of influences to create an energetic and artful synergy of gypsy, dubstep, Latin, samba, pop, ska, reggae, disco, and more. Tropical Gypsy has fully embraced their exotic and ecstatic feel, dancing it’s way further towards upbeat calypso pop. This tropical fiesta feeling, alongside their incredible live performance, made for a fantastic night of dancing and an impressive debut of their new music.
The set was comprised of crazy brass arrangements, soaring violin solos, frantic percussion, swelling accordion and frontwoman Natalia Tena’s unique and sultry vocals. Molotov Jukebox’s on stage energy was palpable; usually a band has to build up to this kind of liveliness and carefully work an audience to elicit big responses – but the packed-out Thekla needed no encouragement.
Everyone was dancing and singing along from the first song. Opening with ‘Dancing With The Dead’, they launched their set off with lively samba rhythms, showcasing their new songs with glee. It wasn’t just the crowd that was dancing: any second a musician was not playing, they were grooving along to the catchy ska riffs. The set was spotted with old favourites – ‘Neon Lights’ and ‘Double Dare’ were highlights, as Tena flitted between Spanish and English with ease, resulting in beautifully smooth and sexy renditions. They showcased their new album, which was met with the same energy from the crowd as their more well-known tracks – the audience knew the songs almost off by heart, despite Tropical Gypsy being released only a few days prior. Building up to the hit single, they saved ‘Pineapple Girl’ for the end of their set, which was met with jubilant jiving.
The connection to their adoring audience was clear throughout the set; their new album has bene mostly funded through fan pledges, and Tena made a point of thanking the audience for their efforts. Handing out jokey ‘Lifetime Achievement Awards’ for the best dressed fans (many came head-to-toe in tropical sun dresses, wearing flowery garlands and beachy shorts), Terrys Chocolate Oranges and assorted exotic fruits were tossed out to the crowd.
These crazy carnival flowers have bloomed and the result is a spectacular explosion of tropical colours and dancing rhythms. With a brilliantly down-to-earth, fan-orientated do-it-yourself attitude, they have produced a fantastic and accomplished second album, that was showcased with mystical, magical and musical flare.
Make sure you look up the rest of the European tour and book tickets – go on, I ‘Double Dare’ you…