Have you ever been to one of those Brazilian steakhouses with the waiters dressed as gauchos? One of those restaurants that has like eight flat screen TVs blasting huge samba concerts, but you’re so deep, head first in a plate of bacon wrapped filet mignon and chicken gizzards, gorging on the sweet juices of every land mammal known to man, to really notice? Well, the vocal stylings of Fabiana Cozza are probably what you missed.

Sao Paulo Brazil’s preeminent samba singer, Cozza and company opened last night at the Cistern despite the predicted threat of rain. Sadly, in place of a downpour there was a very shaky technical situation. Cozza’s mic failed the minute she walked on stage to start the show. The production crew quickly passed her a tethered mic, which shortly thereafter failed as well. Cozza was left to ad lib in her limited English for about five minutes at the top of her performance as the tech crew fixed the sound situation. She also went on to tell the audience that it was hotter in Charleston last night than Rio and that she loved those tiny brown animals she’d seen running around during the day. Her guitarist, who spoke better English helped her out, “She likes squirrels.”

“Ah,” said Cozza, “I love the squ-irrrrels.”

Cozza could have easily pulled the diva card and pouted in the corner while the AV Club got things fixed, but she didn’t. She just expressed how genuinely pleased she was to be performing in the United States for the first time, and once her mic was working again, that feeling became obvious in the power and passion she put into her performance.

The beauty of the show was the simple combination of excellent musicianship by Cozza’s band and her own pitch-perfect power cords. The woman is an incredible singer, but she enhances her performance even more with a showmanship that could only come from her background in musical theater. Cozza used hand motions, body sways, and samba steps to embrace the entire space of the stage. She danced and spun and smiled the story out of every song. It was fabulous.

There were only two parts of the show that felt awkward. The first is a minor personal qualm that I just have to get off my chest or I’ll explode. People, if you prefer to text and talk through a performance, why buy the ticket to a show? I’m speaking of the two uber-mommy who were seated behind me debating which afterparty to attend and blowing up your blackberry’s like Paris Hilton at a Playboy Mansion pool party. Yes, I stink-eyed you twice, and if your skinny asses hadn’t run out of the Cistern before the final song, we would have had words as well. I’m only gonna say this once gals: Shut your big, fat, flappin’ traps, already, unless you want a take down by a scary tall 20-something with Scottish ancestors. Think Robert the Bruce. Need I say more.

The other uncomfortable thing was that throughout Cozza’s performance the audience was just sitting there watching her. We should have been dancing in the streets, but given the heat and the genteel demureness of the attendees, everyone stayed put. Even during the final song when Cozza encouraged a few brave ones standing to dance, after the first chorus they all sat down. Guess Charleston’s just not ready to party like a Brazilian.

When Cozza took her bow, despite the mic flop and the appreciative yet composed standing ovation, she seemed pleased. She performs again tonight in the Cistern and assuming the technical difficulties are under control, it should be a wildly entertaining show.

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