By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
Photo by Matt OttoAndrea Echeverri, Niño Astronauta
JC Fandango, Anaheim
Wednesday, Aug. 11
Allegations that Andrea Echeverri was now officially a wimp plagued the rock en español goddess for months before she took the stage at JC Fandango. Since the early '90s, Echeverri has roared against rape, imperialism and machismo as lead singer for the Colombian superduo Aterciopelados. But during the past year and a half—and since giving birth to a daughter—Echeverri ditched her group's tropical-punk fury in favor of electronica-heavy piffle lacking both politics and tunefulness. So in the moments prior to Echeverri's first solo show in Southern California, no one in the 200-strong crowd knew what to expect. Had motherhood claimed the youthful anger and talent of yet another Generation X-er?
But before anyone got answers, they suffered a half-hour of the reprehensible Tijuana trio Niño Astronauta. A flier before the show boasted of the "distinctive Niño Astronauta experience. Each show is unique and unforgettable." Hey, so was Chernobyl, but you don't see anybody bragging about that. The group's tin-can drumming and keyboard pratfalls were as aimless as a Dubya soliloquy. And fellas, I don't care if your female guest singer was a mistress at hypnosis via ass gyration—there is never any justification for someone to dance while sporting a full-face rabbit mask.
Echeverri redeemed the night with a soothing set of new compositions and selections from the Aterciopelados canon. Her rockera reputation, however, is finished. The show confirmed that Echeverri has irrevocably changed: gone are the days of metal guitars, articulate anger and smartly placed trip-hop blips. Tonight, Echeverri debuted a sort of Latin hip-hop lounge: bass hum anchoring slow-moving acoustic ruminations about life, love and motherhood. She only set down her overstickered guitar to strike goofy poses or point toward the sky, and her voice was as gorgeous as ever—you could put her larynx on a spit, carve out slices and wrap it within a pita. But it all played like lullabies for radicals. While the audience smiled all night, there was a sense of frustrated nostalgia. After all, onstage was the Kali of rock en español singing about . . . the joys of breast-feeding? (Gustavo Arellano)
2Mex, Saturday Night Freestyle Crew
Detroit Bar, Costa Mesa
Thursday, Aug. 12
One Bud lite, two Shirley Temples, and one of the longest sets in the world by a band called the Saturday Night Freestyle Crew, who I swear would still be saying, "Do we have time for one more song?" if someone hadn't finally said, NO! "They played the same song, like, three times," one concert-goer complained; next to her, a man lit a $20 with a candle. Of the 50 or so people in attendance, a third were there to see 2Mex; the other two-thirds were there because it's a bar. It didn't seem like the usual crowd for 2Mex, a distinctive member of LA underground hip-hop group the Visionaries.
In his checkered Vans, baggy shirt and oversized jeans, 2Mex looked like he just rolled out of bed and said, "Shit, I have to play Costa Mesa to a crowd of people who only listen to hip-hop if KIIS plays it?" Built like a mall Santa Claus, with a stare like that from a mounted deer's head, 2Mex's sound is a little creamy—he's got a sort of poetic charm and delivery. And songs such as "Baby I Ain't Joking" (which he sang while staring at his girlfriend) sounded good even without Awol One, who lent his smokey vocals to the album version. "Alive-a-Cation" (with a hard electric-guitar sound) got the four guys in the front to jump around and pump their fists, though it had little effect on the blonde riding a man's crotch like he was going to start spitting out quarters.
2Mex has a stage presence that lets us know how often he does this: even with only a few fans stuffed together just feet from his dirty slip-ons, he performed like the room was packed. It was a great show, but he should have hit his snooze button and curled up under the sheets. Gas is expensive, and I doubt we gave him enough to fill his tank. (Charlie Rose)