The nights leading up to Vault 350's Latin alternative mega-concert were all little deaths for Southland rockeros. No one bothered to dance at Café Tacuba's Nov. 20 Glass House show for some bizarre reason, and a cholo-filled audience at El Gran Silencio's Nov. 23 Casa deBlues appearance dampened the usual joyous mayhem that accompanies the rap-norteño shamen's performances.
So it was with trepidation that fans greeted this pre-Genocide Day Vault 350 quintuple bill, and the awful electronica of opening Tijuana act Niño Astronauta did little to assuage their fears—where was la migra when we really needed them? But Mexican chanteuse Ely Guerra restored order to rockero-dom with steamy cuts from her latest effort, Sweet & Sour, Hot y Spicy. Although her nipples remained pert throughout the half-hour set, enjoying Guerra involved little ogling: the fake-blond sprite impressed enough with a vox and an axe that tumbled across valleys of springy pop, Philly-type soul, and the enigmatic English-language coos of "Puerto Vallarta."
As great as Guerra was, however, the capacity crowd quickly forgot her due to Spain's Ojos de Brujo. Every superlative in existence wouldn't suffice to properly laud the sextet. In just their second-ever American tour, Ojos de Brujo stunned everyone into a motionless trance, mixing jazz scatting and hip-hop glossolalia with Moorish-inflected rumbas and furious flamenco guitars. Love someone? Buy them Ojo de Brujo's new album, Bari, for Christmas.
Rockera legend Andrea Echeverri appeared after Ojos de Brujo and disappointed yet again—the tracks from her solo debut are too soft, not punkish like what she used to growl out during her Aterciopelados reign. But then El Gran Silencio closed the night. The crowd was younger, drunker and livelier than the thugs who ruined their House of Blues show the night before. And from the minute the opening accordion trills and sensuous cumbia bass of "Cumbia Lunera" boomed across the floor, the room moshed in happy unison. Can't say it ever ended, either: I left around 2:30 in the morn with a bruised lip and kidney, and all was still spinning.
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