"Luckily we still feel the magic whenever we play together, after 20 years," says DJ Afro, aka José Luis "Cheo" Pardo, guitarist of Los Amigos Invisibles. The Venezuelan sex-machine ensemble of electro-dance-funk has aged gracefully, still retaining all of its original members even as it widens its demographic. "We get some fans that grew up with us, and now they go to the shows with their kids, and the kids love the music as well," says Pardo. "You never forget the first performance you saw live."
In fact, he recalls his own first live show, at age 8: "I think it was Menudo! That's probably why I love corny pop so much." Of the music influencing him now, Pardo says, "I'm really turned on by chicha," a style of Peruvian cumbia with rock guitars that's named for a fermented corn beverage. "Even though we love the DJ culture, we're really happy that people are enjoying more live bands nowadays," adds Pardo, who just released his own solo album with acoustic influences, Free. Touring behind its new EP, Not So Commercial—comprised of edgier tracks from the same session as the ironically toned-down 2009 disc Commercial—Los Amigos Invisibles is not through expanding its sound. "[Live] we're definitely testing new stuff without people noticing, just to see their reaction to the vibe or the beat," Pardo says. Brooklyn-based Rubblebucket's kaleidoscopic Afrobeat opens the dance party. —Sylvia Pfeiffenberger