When: Mon., Dec. 31, 10 p.m. 2012
This summer the Eternals debuted a remarkable new suite called Espiritu Zombi at Pritzker Pavilion, for which their usual lineup—the core duo of singer Damon Locks and bassist Wayne Montana, plus frequent drummer Areif Sless-Kitain—expanded to a ten-piece. Montana, who wrote the largely uninterrupted 55-minute suite, conceived of it after overhearing the phrase “espiritu zombi” (“zombie spirit”) while in Brazil, and it presents a radically different conception of the band—long, episodic compositions and complex arrangements rather than rock-based songs, with a richness of detail impossible for a small combo. But even with Matthew Lux playing bass (Montana switched to guitar), the rhythmic skeleton of the suite was easily recognizable as the Eternals, its tricky, complex grooves channeling funk, hip-hop, reggae, and West African music with punkish intensity. Before Espiritu Zombi the band used relatively minimalist materials—sparse samples and keyboard patterns layered over those thick, slippery grooves—but here they loaded up on colors and textures, adding the cosmic flair of Sun Ra to the mix. Vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, singers Tomeka Reid and Jeanine O’Toole, and a top-notch horn section—trumpeter Josh Berman, saxophonist Nick Mazzarella, and flutist Manny Bances—contributed a profusion of new harmonic and melodic activity, and the bigger band even cranked up the rhythmic intensity. This big-band material—possibly the strongest work the Eternals have ever done—clearly emboldened Locks, who’s already a superior front man; he tried on several new “voices,” and his familiar personas sounded better than ever. I can only imagine how much more powerful Espiritu Zombi will be in the cozy confines of the Hideout. For this performance Douglas McCombs (Tortoise, Brokeback) will sub for Lux, and Reid will be absent. —Peter Margasak Chandeliers open.