La Vida Bohème, an alt-rock-inspired band who play to sold-out crowds in their native Venezuela, took a huge international leap this month with their U.S. concert debut.
The four-man group played tracks from their first album, Nuestra, to the mostly blank-slate audience at the Latin Alternative Music Conference, pumping their sets full of energy to win over a fresh crowd. Hits like "Radio Capital," a cool, rebellious single sewn together with the steady repetition of "gabba gabba hey"—a nod to the Ramones—resonated with the intimate New York audience; a huge validation for the 22-year-olds who cultivated their sound with plenty of downtown inspiration.
"This is like our mecca," said Henry D'Arthenay, the Buddy Holly-bespectacled guitarist and vocalist. "It was our chance to pay respects to the Talking Heads, the Ramones. And it seemed so natural. We didn't realize how influenced we were by the city until we were here."
While the violence and political contention that inspired La Vida Bohème's revolutionary-tinged sound doesn't overwhelmingly characterize the lives of Americans the way it does Venezuelans (particularly those in their native, crime-plagued Caracas) their very rock 'n' roll sentiment of fighting for change—and escaping when it feels like too much—certainly does. Their New York shows, performed in their trademark splatter-painted attire (which originated as painted political slogans and over time morphed into a Jackson Pollock explosion of color) garnered plenty of buzz, from niche publications to The New York Times.
To show their appreciation to the city that welcomed them and helped breed them from afar, the group (minus Daniel de Sousa, guitar and back-up vocals, who had to return to Caracas for a final exam) serenaded the skyline with one of the sweetest songs on their 12-track album: "Flamingo," an expression of utter devotion, culminating in a tender declaration, "Tú eres mi calma, tú eres mi calma," or "You are my calm, you are my calm."
Catch La Vida Bohème before they head back to Venezuela at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in New York on Saturday, or the Legendary Dobbs in Philadelphia on July 18. Sample more tracks here.
Video by Amanda Martinez
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