Back for its third outing, the Voodoo Ball transforms the Kazimier, Getintothis’ Josh Ray dons the make up and joins the Día de los Muertos celebrations.
As the sun sets on All Saints Day – the second day of the annual Mexican celebration of the dead, Día De Los Muertos – a group of wandering souls begin gathering beneath the Bombed out Church. Coming from all corners of Liverpool to pay reverence to La Catrina Calavera, the marauding spirits are led through the Ropewalks towards the Kazimier by a gigantic puppet of the dapper skeleton; a few late night shoppers are left mentally scarred.
An exciting yet slightly unsettling atmosphere is present immediately upon entering as hundreds of eyes greet your stare. From the tribal masks strewn all over the walls, to the beaming skull behind the stage and the fiery, sinister La Catrina puppet now guarding the entrance to the garden; there’s no escaping their glare. If we are going to rouse the hallowed Mexican spirit tonight Wunderkammer, Vuuduufuturism and Mademoiselle Crochet have certainly created the perfect environment with their outstanding visuals and décor.
As well as the aural offering to the spirits Latin American folk dance group Son de América add some culture and tradition to the night’s ritual proceedings whilst the theatrics of Howard Be Thy Name and Santa Muerte add to the spectacle and Bring the Fire Project leave everyone dumbstruck with their captivatingly dangerous circus skills.
We, The Undersigned are the first to offer up their music to the other realm and as the stankh collective move through a range of genres – from JB deep funk to Tony Allen percussive afrobeat, Lee “Scratch” Perry wonky reggae to Native Tongues hip hop – La Catrina starts to stir.
However given the time of year, the elegant skull is pretty in demand so we’ll need something really special to truly rouse her. Luckily Family Atlantica are up next. Hotly tipped by Gilles Peterson the London-based collective explore “the relationship, the love and the pain, between Europe, South America and Africa” through their pan-Atlantic sound.
As soon as the first visceral groove explodes, it becomes clear this isn’t – like many European based outfits – an imitation of the real thing, Family Atlantica are channelling something very real here. Imagined by producer, multi-instrumentalist and instrument builder Jack Yglesias and fronted by his wife Luzmira Zerpa – the traditional Venezuelan musician and poet with a hypnotic voice – Family Atlantica are without a doubt one of the best live bands in circulation at the moment.
The key is in the repetition. Unlike the delicate compositions on their album, their live show is raw and explosive yet has an entrancing sparseness anchored by righteous, echoing chants, sharp saxophone blasts and Kwame ‘Natural Power’ Crentsil’s fierce percussion. All of this of course evokes something primal in the dance floor. We now have La Catrina’s full attention.
After that intensity, The Fontanas shift the gear down a little but keep the good times flowing with their funky carnival sound. Moving through original tracks and Latin-ska covers of Ring of Fire and Crazy in Love the London-based outfit ignite the dance floor with howling brass and squelchy electronics before they finish with a cover of Dillinger’s infamous hit Cocaine in my Brain.
The Voodoo Ball seems to be growing each year, unsurprising given Rebel Soul’s unsurpassed ability to put on a spectacle. Bring on 2015!
Pictures by Getintothis’ Martin Waters: