By Daniel Kohn
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Argentina's Todos Tus Muertos (All Your Dead) are even more fiery, burning like a Rage Against the Machine set the day after a U.S. air strike on a Third World country. And they're just as political: they named themselves in honor of 30,000 killed by '70s Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla. Fidel Nadal, their dreadlocked, bearded front man, frantically leaps around the stage like this was the last gig of his life, which inspires much stage-diving, crowd-surfing and chronic-sucking in the audience. Several of their songs are clearly about anarchy, which, if they had sung them 20 years ago in their home country, would have gotten them bullets in their heads or a chopper flight and skydive without parachute over the frosty South Atlantic. Like Latin Frozz, they're also about unity—and here come Latin Frozz now, who toss back whiplash rhymes with Nadal. It's a furious rock rap collision, a culture merge that ends with embraces all around. Todos' final song invokes Zapata and revolution. They leave, but the crowd yells for more: "Muertos! Muertos! Muertos!"
Co-headliners Café Tacuba, one of rock en español's most popular bands, are all about hyperactive, off-kilter rhythms, and a freaky front man who's currently named AT Medardo ILK (he changes it with each new album). They have no drummer—at least not on this tour—just a programmer. Still, they're as creative and experimental as Beck: on one song, their fiddle player effortlessly guides the band into a Mexican folk ballad, and after sticking with that for a few minutes, they lock into a soul groove, with ringing guitars clearly swiped from old Byrds records. Café Tacuba are wonderfully odd yet extremely poppy.
They're nowhere as pissed-off, though, as Mexico's Molotov, another rap-rock band, who sample "Bohemian Rhapsody" while churning up aggressive, up-yours guitar riffs and deep, guttural wailing. But just when you think they're getting too one-dimensional, they invoke U2: "This is not a rebel song, this is 'Chinga Tu Madre!'" If you didn't learn it on the playground during recess when you were growing up, that means "motherfucker." And soon, the entire theater is filled with perfectly timed scream chants: "Chinga! . . . Tu madre! . . . Chinga! . . . Tu madre! . . . Chinga! . . . Tu madre!"
Insipid? Sure. But it's also the perfect way to wrap up Watcha, with a primal, anti-authoritarian rant that's as liberating to holler along with as Rage's "Fuck you; I won't do what you tell me!" and Ice T's "Fuck the police!"—as explosive as the cocktail that Molotov named themselves after.
But who is Molotov aiming at? More important, who's the crowd thinking of when they scream, "Chinga tu madre"? Mother Mexico's rulers, who for years made rock & roll very hard to find, lest it corrupt the country's youth (in the '50s, one Mexican newspaper went so far as to print an unsubstantiated story about Elvis, quoting him as supposedly having said, "I'd prefer to kiss three Negro women than one Mexican")? Are they thinking of opportunistic Alta California politicians, who've been using Latin immigration as a wedge issue to fuel their own gains for far too long now? Who knows?
And right now, no one cares—sometimes, in any language, it's great to just feel like a punk. We look up. On a hilltop next to the arena, a small fire is blazing brightly. La futura, again. After the show, just outside the exit, stands Giovanny Blanco, Viva Malpache's singer. He's handing out fliers for his band's upcoming gigs, saying hello to new fans, and soaking up much praise. We introduce ourselves, telling him we thought they played great and letting him know who we are and where we're from. "Oh, yeah, Orange County," he says. "We've played the Foothill and some other places down there. We'd like to do more shows. What we really want to do, though, is play the Doll Hut. We want to really start building up our credibility." Viva la revolución!