Giving Rio the music it wants

This Is Happening. Whist the iconic NY outfit prepares for its final ever tour, they also approach a last, rather opportune gig in Rio, fruit of Queremos, a vibrant new initiative to rejuvenate the city’s live music scene.

Summer + Rio de Janeiro + LCD Soundsystem = guaranteed good time. Pretty obvious, right? But due to the addition of an unexpected variable, the result of this equation might just have been raised to the power of ten. Frontman James Murphy recently announced that, after a decade and three albums, the time has come to say goodbye. And to think this concert might not have happened at all…

The band was only set to play São Paulo and Porto Alegre, but thanks to 6 enthusiastic cariocas who decided the time had come, those in Rio on the 17th of February will be able to spend a night dancing themselves clean and singing along to New York’s finest for the very last time.

The project that is rocking out the “marvellous city” is called Queremos (meaning, literally, “We want it”) and was born out of a collective sense of dissatisfaction with Rio’s decaying concert scene. Tired of seeing international bands overlook the city on their tours, friends Pedro Seiler, Bruno Natal, Felipe Continentino, Tiago Lins, Pedro Garcia and Lucas Bori (photo below) decided to take matters into their own hands: “Lately, several international events, especially music acts, were coming to Brazil but not to Rio. The alleged reason from event producers was always the same: lack of interest from the public”, explains Natal.

Above: Thiago Lins, Felipe continentino, Bruno natal, Pedro seiler, Pedro Garcia and Lucas bori

Last September, after hearing Swedish band Miike Snow was looking forward to playing in Rio but didn’t have an offer, they decided to act. According to Lins, the idea came to them during a weekend get together: “We were all bummed about another great band not coming here. When we found out it would take approximately R$20,000 (approximately £7,600 pounds) to make the show happen, which, if divided, isn’t that much money, we contacted Circo Voador, a local venue, to ask if they would host the concert if we covered band’s expenses. They said yes”.

Excited with the possibility of the gig actually happening, they then came up with a revolutionary way of raising the said amount which would go on to become the basis of the “Queremos” project: the total cost was to be divided among several volunteering payees who, after the total amount was raised (via paypal) and the concert was confirmed, would have the chance to be partially or totally reimbursed by the box office revenue. It was a win win situation; if the total amount wasn’t raised, those who paid would get their money back and there would be no concert. If it was, those initial “share holders” would have the opportunity to see a band they liked enough to pay for, with the possibility of getting part or all of their investment back.

After setting the structure, the group turned their attentions to the web in search of friends who would be interested in joining in. From day one social networks such as Facebook and Twitter played a fundamental role in the project’s funding and propagation – Queremos is a clear example of how to go beyond the self-exposure surface and actually explore the mobilisation and business powers of such tools. With every band announced, not only are new music-loving individuals hopping on board to buy their shares, but so too are companies that wish to see their brands linked to the groundbreaking project.

The initiative proved to be extremely successful and overnight Queremos became the talk of the town. In recognition of their innovative and efficient business model, the project won an award given by one of Brazil’s biggest newspapers to those who made a difference in their respective areas over the past year. “Queremos not only proves that Rio does indeed have an interested public, it also stimulates planning and early ticket sales, something rare around here, where most people only decide to attend a gig on the day of the event. In Europe, for example, gigs are sold out months in advance. This allows producers to have some working capital to start focusing on new projects”, explains Natal.

Queremos has officially put Rio back on the tour maps – in less then 5 months! Following the pioneering – and extremely successful – concert by Miike Snow (above) came Scottish indies Belle and Sebastian, Mayer Hawthorne Hawthorne (whose Rio gig got a “Best.Show.Ever” tweet by the singer himself), Two Door Cinema Club and Vampire Weekend – all sell outs.

The project focuses on bands that have achieved success abroad but are still labeled “alternative” in Brazil and are therefore disregarded by big event production companies, who usually focus on more mainstream acts. The public certainly seems to be enjoying some freshness – so far all gigs paid off and investors got their full refund in every concert.

Choosing LCD Soundsystem to close this season of sun, sand, sweat and kick ass music was a natural progression, but also a bit of a challenge: out of all the acts they were by far the biggest ones, requiring not only a larger venue, but more share holders to pay for the gig. The announcement that the band is retiring might be sad, but it definitely gave this Rio gig a “cherry on the cake” feel, making it even more special and unmissable.

Keep up to speed with the latest antics at:

By Rafaela Miranda Rocha

Vampire Weekend

Two Door Cinema Club

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