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Aaron-Spencer C  in London  on 2014-01-04

Review | Lokandes @ Southbank Centre

Some of the greatest live music sets are from bands that transcend cultural boundaries, so it was refreshing to experience Lokandes — a Latin American fusion band rich in traditional sounds — perform at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall on Saturday evening.

Consisting of band members Ayoze Hernandez-Lopez, Kieffer Santander, Feng Bao, Yuri Betancourt, Jeanette Rojas (also known as Phaxsi Coca) and frontman Kanti Qena, Lokandes have grown as a musical entity with deep Andean roots, merged well with influences from across many countries. The eclectic mix of heritage within the band (Peruvian,  Bolivian, Chilean, Spanish, British and Colombian) has resulted in Lokandes’ distinctive style, which has seen the band perform at a range of venues and festivals over the recent years.

Saturday’s show opened with tropical flavours dowsed over a smooth, almost acid jazz-influenced rhythm, with their song “Tata Inti” — a record with a very scenic instrumental that perfectly demonstrated the individual range of sounds from each of the band’s instruments. The congas, acoustic and bass guitars, charango, drums and Andean panpipes. It was an introduction that held true to Lokandes’ well-known fusion style, as the up-tempo jazzy vibe together with the indigenous feel brought two worlds in one space.

It’s these Andean panpipes that become the noticeable signature gem throughout Lokandes’ sound, providing the cultural backbone to the many of the rhythms.

The band moved on to perform “Waltz”, taking the mood down to a slower, more traditional pace. Kanti Qena’s sense of melody on the charango saw him create a harp-like effect, giving a calming tone to the aura of the song. The guitar then picked-up-pace with a quicker Spanish tempo.

One of the stand-out tracks, “El Cafe de la Abuela” was an exquisite combination of flutes and both the acoustic and bass guitars. It’s easy to sense that Lokandes truly love and respect the music they create, as it’s transmitted through their stage presence. On this particular song, the cajon and cajita wooden percussion instruments ride the track well underneath the other sounds.

"Raza Aymara" demonstrated again, Lokandes’ ability to rock out at any tempo, with the song switching tones and tempos multiple times. At this point in the show, the band had already done enough to satisfy many of those who were new to the group’s sound, all the while, keeping their existing fans recognising why they enjoyed the band’s music in the first place.

One thing to note is Lokandes’ lyrical content, which comes from a place of pride and security in oneself. “Sudaka” — a beautiful ode to South Americans working hard and being proud of who they are — was an opportunity to feel the conscious spirit of the group, with the lyrics being carried by some small elements of Cuban son music.

The global sound that Lokandes produces allows ears to catch a different part of the Americas with each song; from snippets of Brazilian rhythms to one-drop reggae flavours, Lokandes are professionals at bringing different musical formats together and creating a entire new sound.

"Lokoton" was the closing song for the evening, giving the crowd an upbeat mix of Colombian cumbia, Ecuadorian flavours and much more. The ambience at the Royal Festival Hall was uplifted from the time the Lokandes band members stepped on stage and hit their first notes, however, "Lokoton" brought a vitality that proved to be an undeniably to end the evening.

The audience helped Lokandes bring the show to a close by dancing and rhythmically clapping to the genius hybrid of notes.

Lokandes showcased how to present multiple areas of Latin American music into one entity. The melodic expressions from the Andean, Afro-Latino and Spanish aspects of South American culture resulted in a powerhouse of string and wind symphonies, and booming drums that left the audience anticipating in which direction the band were going to take them next, on what was essentially a journey through Latin America.

Lokandes are fully dedicated to representing culture through experimenting with their art, something that the band achieves with the confidence of contemporary artists, but the heart and soul of musicians who respect traditional styles.

To give the crowd a Latin experience the way this band did, is to successfully birth an entire generation of new fans to the Lokandes sound…world music at its finest…

To stay up to date with Lokandes head over to //
Twitter: @Lokandes

Recommended listening: “Lokoton" // "Tata Inti " // "El Cafe de La Abuela (Upcoming album 2014)”

SPECIAL THANKS to Aaron Spencer on his review about Lokandes show at Southbank Centre - More about our special guest writer click here :

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