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To say that last night's Café Tacuba concert was one of the most anticipated Latino music shows of the summer is an understatement. Sure, this past weekend in Los Angeles there was an exodus of Southern Californian rockeros who gathered to see rock-en-español gods perform at the annual Reventón Super Estrella, but the hour-long set that the legendary Mexican rock band performed was only a precursor of what was to come and left fans wanting more. Nothing-- not even the infernal heat wave that turned The Observatory in Santa Ana into an Easy Bake oven-- was going to stop them from experiencing the Tacubos as they were meant to be experienced, in all their energetic glory. Heck, not even a sold-out show stopped people from driving from afar in hopes of scoring a ticket from escalpers, although to their disappointment there was more demand than supply.
By 9:30 p.m., the crowd was growing impatient, filling the air with "chinga tu madre (go fuck your mother)" and whistles, but as keyboardist/guitarist Emmanuel del Real, guitarists Joselo Rangel and Rubén Albarrán and bassist Quique Rangel appeared on stage and began their set with the melodic "El Baile y el Salón," the crowd immediately got into it. This was followed by their cover of "Como Te Extraño" by legendary Argentinean crooner Leo Dan, which pumped up the crowd so quickly that some of the front row people being smashed against the guard rail had to be rescued by security. As they proceeded through their set, their skill in transitioning from the melodic to the ska-punkesque showcased not only their depth, but also their effortlessness.
The fans were taken on a journey of sounds and themes, genres and messages and the dehydrated mass loyally followed; one moment they were skanking to the joys of love as depicted in "Las Flores" and shortly after they were moshing to the die-you-ungrateful-bitch heartbreak of "La Ingrata," all while being led by the charismatic and lively Albarrán, who gyrated across the stage like no other. In between songs, there were philosophical and social wisdoms shared, commending the youth for their emerging social movements, such as México's Yo Soy 132; he even led the crowd in a "el pueblo, se canza, de tanta pinche tranza (the masses are tired of so much fuckin' corruption)" chant, and by the fervor with which it was yelled, there is no denying that México's labyrinth of problems resonate loudly north of its border.
The solid two-hour set showcased some of their greatest hits, but still left fans wanting more-- even though at this point multiple girls were being dragged out of the crowd, their limp limbs and flushed faces revealing that their body could no longer tolerate the human incubator. The band ended their set with the lively "Chica Banda" and invited a cluster of rockeras on stage for a dance fest, hug fest, pose for a photo à-la Facebook! fest that nearly prevented the musicians from completing their song. As they said their thank you's and good byes, they soon realized that as much adoration their fans have for them, they were not immune to the "Culeeeeero!" shouts that innately are born when two or more Mexicans gather in discontent.
As expected, shortly after they returned for an encore and kicked it off with the self-reflective "De Este Lado del Camino," the first single from their upcoming album, and followed by "Eres", which one could argue is the most honest and simple love song of our times. Up to the last song, Café Tacuba delivered: their music, their energy, the fact that they rocked out in the heat alongside their fans until the very end, solidified the fact that after more than 20 years together, they are as loved as ever and as relevant as ever.
Critical bias: Let's be honest, the revival of the rock-en-español scene is vital to once and for all snap us out of the reggaetón crap that was being force-fed to us.
Crowd: Diverse in age, style, and ethnicity. Everything from the torn jeans and docs-wearing rockera to the fedora-wearing tatted pretty boy to the Asian geek.
Overheard: Catty girls being catty, "Look at her, she thinks she's all V.I.P." when I was escorted to the press/photo area. Plus, a chica telling her guy, "this turns me on, reminds me of our rockero days in the '90s."
Random Notebook dump: There should be a mandatory deodorant dispersal at venues when over 90º. Lord knows I needed some, as did many of my fellow concertgoers. Even Rubén said, "ahora si están escuriendo la chiva (now you're really dripping the goat)", in reference to the strong odor.
Video: Café Tacuba Las Flores Live at The Observatory (8/13/12)
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