By Tony Maiella, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With all the marketing buzz from the upcoming Rock in Rio festival, it is natural to ponder the state of the rock and independent music scene in the Marvelous City. After all, rock isn’t a native tradition and many of the venues that host live music tend to err on the side of caution, booking samba bands that play covers. While it is a challenge to find, original rock music in Rio does exist.

Tono will be playing at Fashion Rio, Indie Rock in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, News
Tono will be playing at Fashion Rio on June 4th, photo by Bruno di Lullo.

The following are some of the rock-oriented groups fighting the good fight right now.

Tono, with their varied and flowery pop-rock arrangements, integrated lead vocals of Rafael Rocha and Ana Cláudia inspire thoughts of a modern Novos Bainos or a Brazilian version of the New Pornographers. Their new Japanese karaoke-themed music video “Me Sara” was recently broadcast on MTV and Multishow to their fans’ delight. On June 4th they’ll be playing Fashion Rio at Pier Mauá. See more at:

Do Amor
The level of intuitive musicianship Do Amor emotes, along with their inkling to not take themselves so seriously, is striking from the get-go. In the words of ex-Los Hermanos lead singer Rodrigo Amarante, “Do Amor the disc is a reminder of all the beauty that is sunk for the fear of not being cool, not radio-friendly, not being in style.” Keep an eye out for their fearless brand of experimental rock around the city. See more at:

Nina Becker will be playing at the Caixa Cultural on June 30th and July 1st, Indie Rock in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, News
Nina Becker will be playing at the Caixa Cultural on June 30th and July 1st, photo by Caroline Bittencourt.

Nina Becker
While much of Nina Becker’s latest double album Azul e Vermelho has an understated touch with traces of modern bossa nova, her rock tendencies are still folded into the bigger picture. At points her sound sparks memories of Marisa Monte and even Feist, but much more prominent is the influence of the Rio de Janeiro style of rock that Los Hermanos touched upon with their later recordings. Currently, Becker is on tour throughout Brazil promoting her album and will be coming to Rio on June 30th and July 1st to the Caixa Cultural. See more at:

Many bands have tried to combine rock and MPB (Brazilian pop) and failed miserably. Yet, the Rio de Janeiro-based band Ganeshas does more than one thing right in making your ears comfortable with the idea. According to the well-known Brazilian artist Kledir Ramil, “Today I see with joy that what for us was a battle of enormous effort, Ganeshas performs naturally, as if the walls had never existed.” Come out to their CD release party and music video debut at Espaço Acústica on June 5th with DJ Salim. See more at:

R. Sigma
Sleak production is spread all across Barboletas, the latest four-song EP from R. Sigma. Their sound is tight and it’s hard to find even a bit of Brazil in the mix. Upon first listen, the most obvious comparisons are Incubus, Minus the Bear, and Mars Volta, especially. Download the EP for free on their myspace page, see more at:

While the indie rock scene in Rio may play a back seat to samba and other local sounds, the spirit is alive and thriving. There are some venues to keep an eye on for smaller rock bar shows, and of course check our Nightlife Guide for daily listings.


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