The first three Saturdays of February, you could definitely hear some Sounds of Brazil coming from the corner of Houston and Varick. SOB’s celebrated Carnaval en grande, and on February 19th, it was Jorge Ben Jor taking hold of the stage. With two sold-out shows in one night, one at nine and another at midnight, many who did not plan ahead were left empty-handed.
The crowd was diverse as Ben Jor’s musical elements, integrating various ages and vernaculars. All generation gaps were closed shut when the dancing started. As mixed as the crowd was, there was more solidarity than in any other homogeneous setting; each time I moved from one spot of the place to another (I was carrying two bags and a sweater, so it seemed like I was leaving the place every time I looked to re-settle elsewhere), there was somebody who asked me “Why are you leaving? Don’t you like the music?!” Or, on a less verbal situation, I’d simply be pulled by an arm and forced to keep dancing.
Not quite on schedule, nine men took stage –representing various generations- dressed in white from head to toe. They juggled instruments throughout the concert, with a private bouncer who kept instruments handy when the time to trade came around. At one point, he was caught in some bellicose battle that broke out in front of the stage. It spread a little further out, but calmed down eventually.
The show was enjoyed by all, and platonically lusted by many others who were left ticket-less. A bigger venue or several other shows would have been nice. However, Ben Jor had performed in Miami the 18th, and was running to Boston to make it on time for a show at The Roxy. We hope to see him again, soon.