Latin American Music Stars Perform One-to-One Concerts for Essential Workers

Staged by GUT and Mercado Libre

Last month, Brazilian musician Seu Jorge sang David Bowie's "Life on Mars" at a concert venue in São Paulo. He played to an audience of one: Camila, a nurse, to celebrate her service during the coronavirus pandemic.

That performance kicked off a series of 10 such ultra-intimate gigs staged by creative agency GUT and MJZ/Labhouse director Juan Cabral (of Cadbury "Gorilla" fame) for e-commerce company Mercado Libre.

The shows pair top Latin American artists with front-line professionals or volunteers to honor the latter's contributions:

Mercado Libre | One x One: A show for a hero

The set-up generates some memorable moments, as each artist plays for a single appreciative fan, while maintaining social distance as robotic cameras roam the aisles of otherwise empty auditoriums. The wealth of space on display makes the performances feel incredibly compelling and, in a nod to the times, just a tad wistful.

Inverting pre-Covid live entertainment norms, the musicians set up on stage and waited for the guests to arrive, a subtle reminder of which professions are most vital these days, and a nod toward society's true heroes who put their lives on the line. (An earlier initiative by 14 sports leagues acknowledging medical workers hits somewhat similar notes, sans the face-to-face encounters.)

Telecasts and streams of Mercado Libre's "One x One" concerts on Brazil's O Globo and other platforms will raise funds for the Red Cross and Food Bank Network.

Below, director Cabral and GUT creative lead Joaquin Cubria field our question about the project:

Muse: Where did the idea originate?

Juan Cabral and Joaquin Cubria: Like all ideas, it was floating around. Just waiting like a Pokémon goes in a street or a kitchen. It made a perfect match with the client's interest in developing content for the very first time in their 20 years of existence. So the first thing was … let's get the artists to wait. Reversing the norm where you have thousands of people waiting for three guys to show up with a guitar. The message of equality felt good.

How'd you choose the performers and workers?

We wanted the most varied lineup ever. Music styles, personalities, countries. Not all musicians are ready to play without a band and to show the person behind the artist. That narrowed the list a lot. Regarding the workers, we cast around 500 different nurses, medics and volunteers who were on the frontline. We selected 10. But when you hear all their stories, you really want to make shows for all of them.

How did it feel to film just two people in these huge halls?

There's a certain dystopian feel to the shows. Empty places that shouldn't be empty—and robotic cameras observing every detail as two humans connect for the first time. Even the lighting was controlled remotely. We were operating the lights from Buenos Aires directly into Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, etc. Latency of one second. Pretty extraordinary.

What was the hardest part of putting this together?

There was no easy part. Shooting in a pandemic in six different countries, and delivering 3.5 hours of edited footage in two months, is a pretty painful process. Countries going into lockdown, shooting protocols that changed every week, shows postponed. Frankly, the fun part comes when you sit down to enjoy the final material. We are all still amazed at the fact that we made this happen under the circumstances.

Why is this effective marketing for Mercado Libre?

This is Mercado Libre's debut in content. Partnerships with content giants like HBO will follow, but it's great that they started with something that's 100 percent owned by the brand. A piece this beautiful and human really stands out in a year that's been super tough for brands trying to find their place and their role in the middle of a global pandemic.

Here's a setlist of the musicians and their very specific audiences:

Argentina: 
• Abel Pintos … Verónica (volunteer) @ La Usina del Arte, Buenos Aires
• Vicentico … Magalí (doctor) @ La Usina del Arte, Buenos Aires

Brazil:
• Seu Jorge … Camila (nurse) @ Memorial, Sao Paulo
• Daniela Mercury … Anaide (nurse) @ Memorial, Sao Paulo
• Paula Fernades … Enderson (nurse) @ Sala, Sau Paulo

Mexico:
• Tito Fuentes … Francisco (doctor) @ Arena de México in D.F.
• Natalia Lafourcade … Magali (nurse) @ Teatro de la Ciudad in D.F.

Colombia:
• Sebastián Yatra … María Clara (nurse) @ Orquideorama in Medellín

Chile:
• Gepe … Francisca (nurse) @ Estación Mapocho in Santiago

Uruguay:
• Sebastián Teysera … Cibeles (doctor) @ Teatro del Sodre Adela in Montevideo

CREDITS

GUT BA
Joaquin Cubria, Ignacio Ferioli, Matias Lafalla, Ramiro Rodriguez Gamallo, Agustina Garavilla, Emiliano Cortez, Alejandro Rattenbach, Meme Traverso, Florencia Albizzati, Eugenia Carbajales.

GUT SP
Bruno Brux, Valeria Barone, Camila de Almeida Prado, Mariane Goebel, Linus Oura, Tiago Abreu, Raphaela Guillen, Fernando Ribeiro, Douglas Coelho, Barbara Reis, Guilherme Cavalcante, Douglas Silveira, Laura Cardeal

Client:
Sean Summers, Louise Mckerrow, Celina Defferrari, Iuri Maia, Florencia Dos Reis, Joaquin Schamber, Melanie Steiner, Pablo Bincoletto, Marcela Gimenez, Bernadette Mac Dermott.
 
Production House: MJZ/ Labhouse
Director: Juan Cabral
Executive Producer: Flora Fernandez Marengo
General Producer: Natalia Mussolana
Artistic: Mgmt Squad
Director fotografía general: Leandro Filloy
Diseño de luces: Sergio Lacroix
General Editor: Emiliano Fardaus

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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