Review: Leche de Tigre’s Mighty Roar at Mike Luce Studio


Kona’s Latin/Funk band, Leche de Tigre, gave a powerful performance last Friday at the Mike Luce Studio in Waimea. The crowd danced, raved, and formed a conga line like it was a wild New Year’s Eve party – some wore festive Halloween costumes, even the band.

Chuck Gessert, Kahilu Theatre’s Artistic Director, first heard about Leche de Tigre a year ago while having a meal at Sushi Rock in Hawi. He’d been looking for the right time to book them, and last Friday’s post-Halloween show was perfect timing.

The expanded dance floor and stage

Gessert had his staff reconfigure the Mike Luce Studio so it opened up to Kahilu’s main stage. The extended stage area allowed people to dance, and the band played on a riser. The sound was perfect, and they added a rotating disco ball and other special lighting. In his introduction, Gessert said he hoped to do more shows like this in the future to feature some of the Big Island’s finest bands in a nightclub setting.

Leche de Tigre says their main focus is “to make you move,” and they accomplished that effortlessly with stimulating Latin grooves that inspired the Aloha Friday crowd to fill the dance floor. The audience was a mix of all ages. Those who watched the show in the seated area enjoyed a beverage and snack from the concession booth.

Guitarist Dan Brauer

The band features frontman Dan Brauer on vocals, and he plays a multitude of unique sounding guitars, each setting the proper mood for the range of songs. Brauer is an extraordinary guitarist, and you can hear a vast treasure trove of influences in his playing. In a recent interview I did with him, he explained that he and LTD have identified and pulled inspiration from artists such as Rodrigo y Gabriella, Esquivel, Pink Martini, Astrud Gilberto, and even Jimi Hendrix.

The conga line at Mike Luce Studio

While their eclectic setlist featured mostly LTD originals, they also covered Tom Waits (“Jockey Full of Bourbon”), French musician Jain (“Makeba”), and the Jewish folk song Hava Nagila, which inspired a spontaneous audience conga line.

Lee Motter

Singer Lee Motter handled lead vocals throughout the evening. She’s a powerhouse, just like the prize-fighter costume she wore. Bouncing, weaving, jumping, all while singing with a burning focus. Michaeloha Elam on trumpet works brilliantly with this funk-fused ensemble. He also conducts the Chamber Orchestra of Kona and has performed in a myriad of concerts and international festivals throughout his career.

Noa Eads

The band’s tight rhythm section featured Noa Eads on timbales, Chris Wilson on drums, and Joe Marcelin on percussion. They were so in sync, they seemed to be reading each other’s minds. Now add in Lucas Lessa on acoustic guitar and Robby Malovic on bass, and the enormous power of Leche de Tigre is complete.

The three-hour dance ended around 10 pm, and the cool Waimea air was more than a welcome feeling after dancing to hot Latin Gypsy Funk.

Dan Brauer’s next project is a Pink Floyd-themed show called “All That is Now: Live Tribute to Dark Side of the Moon.” Musicians from across the Big Island are coming together for a live tribute performance of Pink Floyd’s 1973 masterpiece album. In alignment with the 45th Anniversary of the album’s release, the music comes to life in a re-creation of the progressive psychedelic sounds made famous by Pink Floyd. The event takes place on November 29, at the Mike Luce Studio, and according to Chuck Gessert, since the 7pm show is nearly sold out, they added a 9pm show. You can find ticket info here:

Set List I
Jockey Full of Bourbon | Dark Eyes | The Country | Mambo de Tigre | Makeba | Moliendo Cafe | Giant Majestic | Spring Break |Ce soir | Hava Nagila |

Set List II
Malagueña | Desconocido | Baja Nights | Bala de Plata | Roger Wilco |Stereo | Para Ti | Standing Tall | Samba Spy | Brazilian Elevator Music | El Negra Zimbon | New Rulez | La Iguana

Jefe | Poubelle

Be sure to visit Leche de Tigre’s website for their latest music and show info:

Steve Roby is a music journalist, best-selling author, and originally from San Francisco. He’s been featured in the NY Times, Rolling Stone, and Billboard Magazine. Roby is also the Managing Editor of Big Island Music Magazine.


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