New York is being painted green and yellow this summer, as the eighth edition of Brasil Summerfest is taking place around the city, gathering the very best of Brazil’s contemporary music and arts for a two-week celebration. From July 29 to August 12, over 20 Brazilian artists are landing on numerous stages to showcase the rich cultural and musical diversity their country is internationally known for. Many of these artists are making their U.S. debut during the festival.
For this year’s edition, its biggest one to date, Brasil Summerfest is bringing Rodrigo Amarante – of Los Hermanos, Little Joy, and Narcos fame – to perform his endearing, humorous live set in front of New York audiences. Ava Rocha, the avant-rock revelation from the 2017 edition of Festival NRMAL, is also part of the lineup, together with choro bandolim player Hamilton de Holanda and singer Badi Assad.
Folk singer Tiê and MPB-pop chanteuse Roberta Sá are playing for the first time in the States during the festival, as well as reggae outfit Criolina and Toronto-based artist Bruno Capinan. Film screenings, workshops, panels, installations, and parties round out the programming.
Even though we recommend catching as many acts as you can, we chose five artists playing Brasil Summerfest who you definitely can’t miss. Check them out.
SummerStage is in for a shock of high energy on August 5, courtesy of BaianaSystem. Strongly rooted in the Jamaican tradition of soundsystems, the Salvador, Bahia ensemble truly shine in live performance, where they blast their own compositions built on Caribbean styles like reggae and dub, Afro-Brazilian pagode and samba, electronic production, and Bahian instrumentation. This explosive mix of blood-pumping music and a powerful live set has made them stand out in their local scene; they took the São Paulo carnaval by storm this year.
Another Brasil Summerfest act playing the States for the first time is Maglore. The Salvador, Bahia quartet has become increasingly popular in their home country since their well-received 2011 debut full-length Veroz, thanks to their tie-dyed pop-rock and singalong hooks. Their latest album Todas as Bandeiras balances back and forth between jangly, sun-kissed pop tunes and transcendent moments with the right amount of psychedelia to make our heads spin. Maglore are taking the Nublu stage on August 3.
Joining BaianaSystem at SummerStage on August 5, along with Hamilton de Holanda and Roberta Sá, is Xênia França, who has blown up in Brazil’s music scene with the release of her first album, 2017’s Xenia. Her buttery smooth songs tastefully thread afro-diasporic genres like soul, jazz, samba, R&B, and blend elements like batá and candomble drums. Her Afro-Brazilian origins also shine through her lyrics, which she uses as a vehicle to open up delicate conversations about race and identity.
Seu Jorge, the legend himself, is flying to New York to perform an impressive string of 10 nights at The Blue Note, starting on August 1. Fresh off his recent international tour performing the soundtrack for The Life Aquatic, composed entirely of acoustic David Bowie covers, Jorge is playing selections from his stunning samba-based repertoire. This means you’ll have more than enough opportunities to witness the magical, intimate universe that is a Seu Jorge concert.
Also from Rio de Janeiro, experimental musician and singer-songwriter Leonardo Campelo Gonçalves (aka Negro Leo) is one of the most bold acts in the Brasil Summerfest lineup. The artist, who’s making his U.S. debut in a free event at the Lincoln Center on August 2, has consistently released irresistible avant-garde compositions since 2012, created by summoning the spirits of No Wave, Tropicália, jazz, and Dada. Just take a listen to his 2017 soundtrack for the Hubert Fichte: Love and Ethnology project to see what we mean.