Report on the tour of Brazil, June 17-26, 2007
UJB 1's tour to Brazil and Rio de Janeiro will always be remembered for the enthusiasm of the Brazilian audiences for the band's music. The audiences in Brazil were great, and they made it so much easier to perform well. The band received standing ovations and/or calls for encores at every concert. The Brazilians we met were particularly warm and friendly and very easy-going, which made it easy to enjoy our experience all the more.
Travelling to Brazil was uneventful, although when we left LAX a little late, the plane's pilot told us that he would be able to make up the lost time by "taking a shortcut," which brings up the fascinating concept of what a shortcut by a plane travelling in the air might be.
Perhaps the best performance by the band and nearly the best audience was at the Rio Scenarium, a night club in downtown Rio that has three stages on three floors. The band took a subtle but different approach to the repertoire it had played many, many times that perfectly fit the situation, the room, the sonic environment, and the audience. The audience responded to the band with such a great reaction that the Rio Scenarium's web site raved about the band's performance as the highlight of the month at the club. The only negative was the sound man's reluctance to turn down the volume on the rhythm section (not that the band nor the audience seemed to mind). After the fourth request to balance the rhythm section with horns a little better so that the horns could be heard above the rhythm section, the sound man's stupefying response was, "I'll try." I immediately had a vision of the sound man struggling with all his strength against the volume control that somehow refused to budge. Rio Scenarium's report on the band's performance (in Portuguese.)
The best audience, though, clearly was at the next day's performance at an open-air theater in the middle of a nearby city. A group of high school girls showed up for the performance and reacted to the band like it was Beatlemania in 1964. They shouted, they danced, they called out to the band, and they focused their attention on Aaron (trombone), who rose to the occasion and returned the girls' focus with a performance (on trombone as well as spoken and sung) that was truly worthy of their attention. A rock star was born.
The band's last performance was at the Rio Design Mall, a very expensive shopping mall on the outskirts of Rio. The band closed out a series of performances by various bands highlighting a display of Harley Davidson motorcycles. The stage was on the floor of the large, open, central section of the mall which rose to three stories. The band was perhaps feeling a little tired at that point, not surprisingly, and while the audience was still very appreciative, it took a particularly inspired solo by Justin (alto saxophone) to really ignite the band.
We went on several sight-seeing trips, the highlight of which was a speedboat tour of the ocean near Rio. The views of the beaches and its nearby islands were fantastic, the speedboats played a bit with each other (splashing the other and getting some air when travelling through the other's wake), and the band had the chance to take a swim in beautiful water miles out into the ocean near one of the islands.
The most difficult part of the tour was loading all the band's equipment (sound system, speakers, drum set, bass amp, electric piano, etc.) in and off the bus and in and out of the venue for every one of the five days on which the band performed. But the band did a great job: all the equipment worked flawlessly, none was lost nor broken.
Many band members commented that they would love to return to Brazil because they had such a good time, and that the band played exceedingly well.
- Best dancer – Jimmy
- Most romantic – Doug
- Best Brazilian rock star – Aaron
- Most forgetful – Justin A.
- Hardest working – Tim, Jeremy, Sean, Justin R.
- Best imitation of having been in a fist fight – Dan
- Best T-shirt organizer – Andrea
by Paul Rinzler