Torta, Torta, Torta!

Photo by OCW Staff ANDRÉS CABAS/ELEFANTES
HOUSE OF BLUES, ANAHEIM
FRIDAY, NOV. 1

Depending on whether you're an alcoholic or a Latin-alternative junkie, Friday night's Solo por Invitación concert at the House of Blues was either a great drunken mess or a disappointing drunken mess.

Before the program, around 1,000 potential addicts—err, fans—made full use of the four free Miller Genuine Draft tickets per person that were being handed out. The crowd eagerly toasted their new god—the MGD logo covered the religious symbols that usually grace the House of Blues stage—and by the time the night's MC appeared wearing a barely there dress, the place reeked and reminded us of Ted Kennedy. A collectively slurred, "Turn around!" greeted the hostess when she tried to speak.

"Wait a minute," the buxom chula pleaded, desperately trying to prevent the plastered crowd from rioting (the show had already been delayed more than an hour). "Ladies, can you get the men to shut up? Tell them they won't get any tonight if they don't." Wolf whistles—male and female—responded accordingly.

As per the tradition of the Solo por Invitación series, no one knew the identity of the night's act, so speculation was rampant. Couldn't be Jaguares—they were playing at the Wiltern that night. Enanitos Verdes and Enrique Bunbury? Impossible: they were packing 'em in at the Palladium and were scheduled to play the following night at the Grove. La Ley? Nah, they're Coors bitches.

When Andrés Cabas took to the stage, the audience audibly groaned—or was it a belch? The Colombian singer has piqued listener interest with his eponymous debut, a mixture of dark Caribbean beats and no-frills rock that makes him a tougher version of Juanes—but that's not saying much. Cabas is a good opening act, and in a couple of years, he might be able to carry a concert on his own. But his headliner status was unbecoming of the Solo por Invitación series (which has built its stellar reputation on showcasing such mega-acts as Aterciopelados, Los Amigos Invisibles and Café Tacuba), and the audience let their disappointment be known . . . by drinking more booze.

Cabas took to the stage dressed in Latin-alternative chic: unruly hair à la Lenny Kravitz, long-sleeved untucked shirt à la Lenny Kravitz, tight leather pants à la Lenny Kravitz . . . Wait a minute—is Lenny Kravitz Colombian?

But the drums! Cabas' backup band employed three different percussionists—a regular drummer, a congero and someone going Tito Puente on the timbales—that might have saved the concert. This pounding trio, though, couldn't mask the Colombian clown's nonexistent stage presence, and his stage-strutting and happy-clapping looked ridiculous.

Some fans writhed around to Cabas' fine-if-not-impressive vocals; the more thuggish segment of the crowd stared grimly ahead. Noting that the audience was turning against him—or was it the full cup of beer thrown at him during a dramatic solo?—Cabas introduced Mexican quintet Elefantes. The audience shook off their stupor and danced to the Bunbury-groomed quintet's melodically harsh sound, beer in one hand, ass of a lover in the other. There was a disturbing development, though—Cabas wouldn't leave the stage! He joined the band on keyboards as the audience got plastered even further in protest. Elefantes played only two songs before ceding the rest of the concert to Cabas.

Cabas continued for half an hour, but a rain of "¡Culeros!" and beer and "¡Chinga tu madre!" filled the venue as people forgot about him by pounding the bottle. Men stumbled from woman to woman, bumping into walls and excusing themselves before bumping into another wall. In the back of the club, three guys pretended to fill the three orifices of a barely coherent lady. When women charitably described as zaftig began freaking Cabas, shouts of "¡Torta!" ("Blimp!") and "Free Willy!" drove them off. Even members of the media forgot their duty and joined in the intemperance. A cameraman for a television station told one of the guys from the fine website www.mundorockero.com that he was occupying his seat; the writer offered a scowl and replied, "I don't see your name written on it!"

Cabas mercifully ended his set—and that was it. Surely, Elefantes couldn't have been the promised second act? They were. Rumors immediately were garbled around the stage as fans stumbled out of the club. Supposedly, Elefantes played only three songs because their lead singer was missing. Supposedly, La Mosca Tse Tse was to be the second act but refused because their performance demands weren't met. It was all drunk talk. Sweet drunk talk.

 
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