By Sam Frank
In the 1989 cult film Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves) and Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winters) must travel through time with Rufus (George Carlin) in order to pass their history class and avoid disbanding “Wyld Stallyns,” the duo’s garage band which Rufus claims is responsible for shaping a future Utopian society. Back then, the idea of two guys uniting the world through music was about as far-fetched as Knight Rider’s cheesed out “one man can make a difference” theme. But in today’s world that is not the case. If you dress Bill and Ted in designer suits, switch their guitars with turntables, and lose the goofy 80’s jargon that defined pre-Matrix Keanu you’ve got Washington D.C.’s very own Eric Hilton and Rob Garza, a.k.a. Thievery Corporation. Whoa [slight pause for Keanu to collect his thoughts], did you just call Thievery Corporation a modern day Bill and Ted? Yes, I did, but only after experiencing the band’s mind-melting psychedelic live show at New York City’s Terminal 5 this past February.
When the bank man comes to your door/
Better know you’ll always be poor/
Bank loans and policies/
They can’t make our people free/
You live on the blood of my people/
Everyone knows you’ve come to steal/
You come like the thieves in the night/
The whole world is ready to fight.
“This record is our most internationally oriented,” Garza mentioned to iLike, and that world flavor was preserved throughout their cosmic live show as some songs were performed in foreign languages backed by instruments with heritage outside America. February’s show got underway in pure dancehall fashion with lush beats pumping Terminal 5’s mammoth sound system as Radio Retaliation’s opener “Sound the Alarm” sent sirens blaring throughout the three story Manhattan club. A barrage of flashing Zapatista imagery illuminated the stage’s led panel backdrop before transitioning into kaleidoscopic visual patterns which continued throughout the two hour set. Other highlights from the evening included the unbelievable endurance of bassist Ashish Vyas who performed the entire show barefoot, Sista Pat’s seductive dance routine during “Lebanese Blonde,” off 2000’s The Mirror Conspiracy, and the pulsating deep bass that caused Terminal 5 to vibrate like a moonwalk during the first set’s closing song, “Warning Shots,” off 2005’s The Cosmic Game. The show ended on a high note with concertgoers on stage bumping and grinding alongside band members while Garza and Hilton looked on from their slightly elevated DJ platform. (pull)“The roots of our inspiration have always come from what is happening globally,” Garza acknowledged in a recent interview. “It’s hard to close your eyes and sleep while the world is burning around you. If you are an artist, this is the most essential time to speak up,”(/pull) which is exactly what Thievery Corporation does on Radio Retaliation. But on stage the dynamics are quite different. Incorporating more than a dozen acts from various regions of the world in their live show is a proactive move that validates Garza and Hilton’s message of unity among nations. Fans in attendance that night validated the duo’s idealistic philosophy as they incessantly cheered for Persian beauty Lou Lou after she finished singing in Farsi, a language commonly used in parts of Iran and Afghanistan, two regions of the world most Americans only hear about in the context of military action. Now take a step back and put things in perspective. You’ve got two guys writing music that can possibility unite quarreling nations; thus, laying down the ground work for a future “Utopian-like” society. You don’t need Rufus or a phone booth-shaped time machine to see that Rob and Eric have already embarked on their own excellent adventure, and everyone at their shows contribute to revolution. WYLD STALLYNS!!!