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When Spanish radio station KSSE 97.5 (better known as "Super Estrella") began its Reventón music festival five years ago, Southland rockeros thanked the gods.
But today, these rockeros are atheists.
See, the Reventón was supposed to help the then-and-still-fledgling local Latin alternative scene by bringing the genre's best artists to the Arrowhead Pond each summer. While the mega-concert has included worthy acts like Jaguares and La Ley, the Reventón owes its immense popularity—it sells out immediately every year—more to its constant exhibition of good-looking pop automatons and the fact that nobody gives a fuck anymore about anything. And this year's incarnation is probably the worst yet.
There's slim hope, of course: Argentine warhorses Enanitos Verdes are a must-see group. Enanitos is one of the rare rock en español combos featured on Super Estrella, a pleasant combination of Latin American rhythms and power-trio-lite riffs. It's a miracle that the explicitly conformist station plays their stuff, though, considering that underneath Enanitos' poppy sound is seething working-class lyrical sentiment. Too bad that their songs of protest will be lost on most of Reventón's materialistic audience, who wouldn't know a political subtext if it rifle-butted them across their dancing-fool kneecaps.
The other act worth giving a second listen is Rabanes. Best known for their infectious 2000 anthem "My Commanding Wife," the Panamanian three-man outfit is an absorbing mix of calypso, punk, a dash of metal, and chombo (Panamanian slang for black Panamanian) beats. Rabanes' recent sophomore effort, Money Pa' Que', represents a crossroad for them: the boys' party tunes can either evolve into Enanitos-status consciousness or stupid Super Estrella silliness. Based on the album's many critiques of the disparity of wealth in Latin America, bet on the former.
The final artist deserving of mention is Aleks Syntek. Although the chilango represents pop at its most catchy and annoying, I'll give him credit for writing, playing and producing his material, an anomaly in Super Estrella's roster. Syntek's production talents are renowned, working with artists such as Ray Manzarek and the Rolling Stones. But I don't want to talk about him anymore because he looks like a mating experiment between Billy Bob Thorton and Buddy Holly gone horribly awry.
The rest of the Reventón slate is more suited toward Super Estrella's no-brains-required format: take, for instance, headliner Elvis Crespo, who's the latest in a line of handsome-but-talentless-with-English-names Puerto Rican male tropical singers. But the ultimate affront at the Reventón is Paulina Rubio, currently dominating KIIS-FM with her atrocious English debut, Border Girl.
Rubio has been a nuisance on the Mexican music landscape for years, originating during the 1980s with the preteen fabricated group Timbiriche. Like us here with the Olson twins, the Mexican nation has seen her career grow along with her breasts. Too bad her talents didn't grow along with her cup sizes. A positive female sexuality can be revolutionary in music—just ask Madonna. But chula, lifting up your dress for no other reason than to show fans your great ass does not a feminist make.
Maybe I've been too hard on the folks at KSSE. Maybe next year, Reventón will bring great acts together for some awesome music. Maybe Super Estrella will start playing better music. Or maybe I should hope that there is a God so that He can smite this pestilence from musicdom forever. Santa María, madre de Diós. . . .
Reventón Super Estrella features Enanitos Verdes, Rabanes, Alek Synteks, and a bunch of horrible artists at the Arrowhead Pond, 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 704-2400. Sat., 4 p.m. $55-$100. All ages.