The Japanese Cuban link runs strong in the Palace

The Palace of Wonder stage is always good for a few surprises. It’s a joy to see smaller bands bring huge performances to an intimate crowd. It’s a bit of a festival secret, that you’re bound to catch a few hidden gems at the Palace each night.

On Saturday night, one of those gems came in the form of the Japanese band Banderas. Formed just a couple years ago, Banderas performs very authentic and infectious Cuban, Latin and salsa music. It’s one Japanese group’s fascination in urban music taken in a different direction than the typical hip hop, reggae, blues or jazz genre and it’s a breathe of fresh air. Although Banderas’ sound and instrumentation does take inspiration from all previously mentioned forms of music, the band has a distinct Latin/Cuban flavor through and through.

The group has some 12 members with instrumentation including Latin percussion, bongos, a small brass section, piano, and vocals. Their set even included a special guest dancer, a free spirit known as Saeko. Their time slot in the Palace came at a key time, right before midnight and right after the always energetic and freewheelin’ Gaz Mayall. As per usual, Gaz had the palace in a frenzy by the time his set was finished. So, to say things were warmed up nicely for Banderas is a bit of an understatement.

Through the set the Banderas ripped through salsa, Latin rhythm tunes, fast tunes, slow songs, pulled out solos, improvised scatting sessions and more. As I touched on before, the band also came with their own guest dancer, Saeko. This ball of energy started down on the dance floor performing Latin based dances and doing all she could to get people dancing and moving with her. With that accomplished, she headed onto the stage to dance with the band and show all below how dynamic and sexy the Latin/Cuban dance can be.

The band ended with a lively, almost tropical number that got the whole place shaking. Through it all, Banderas played with intensity, authenticity and bravado. Their rhythm was infectious, to hear this style of music perform by a Japanese band, complete with mostly all Spanish lyrics (the odd few in Japanese) was a pleasure to take in. Hopefully Banderas continues its journey and we all get another chance to see them again soon.

Text by James Mallion Posted on 2016.7.27 10:57