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Wednesday, June 20, 2012


A Party in Their Sights: Los Amigos Invisibles

Written by Washington Post Express contributor Alfredo Flores

LONG LIVE the funk. The genre saw its heyday in the '70s and '80s, but it's alive and well with a groovy new twist — the irresistibly dance-friendly gozadera beats that Venezuelan rockers Los Amigos Invisibles have called their own for nearly two decades. The word gozadera comes from the Spanish gozar (to enjoy) — very apropos for these party boys. LAI moved from their native Caracas to New York in 2000 and became enamored with the concept of the city's nonstop parties, a seamless transition between DJ sets with live bands, and Los Amigos' lead guitarist and primary songwriter Jose Luis "Cheo" Pardo (who doubles as DJ Afro) serves this role. "The idea is to make the fans comfortable," said Pardo in Spanish as Los Amigos prepare for a tour promoting their latest, "Commercial." "I feel like I can be a conductor during the show, blending in rock, funk, bossa nova, dance, house and salsa music in my DJ sets and with our band. We're a party band, and the party never stops with us on tour." That's evident in their latest single — "Mentiras" ("Lies") — an '80s-era funk track on which the band members deny it was them when confronted by their wives about online photos of them getting drunk with fans at a beach party after a gig. They refute those claims in the chorus, "I was nowhere near there that night. You must be confused, or maybe there's a dude who looks exactly like me!" The band has also never shied away from singing about their love for lovemaking. They get their most vivid fan responses for tracks like "Cuchi Cuchi" ("Booty Booty") and "Ponerte en Cuatro" (look it up), with their catchy, bass-heavy beats and hand signals from Amigos lead singer Julio "Chulius" Briceño that fans can emulate (putting four fingers up, and pawing like a cat). "Our music is funk and soul that everyone can like," says Pardo, who notes that talking openly about sex is commonplace in Latin America. "But we find it funny that many of the Americans can absolutely love our live show, but go back home and find out about our lyrics they get caught off guard. They still like us and find it hilarious." » 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW; with Batala, Natalia Clavier, Sat., June 20, 9 p.m., $23; 800-955-5566. (U St.-Cardozo)