"No human being is illegal!'' shouted Saul Hernadez in Spanish to a Nokia Theater packed with raza from all walks of life, from the chilango a week removed from Tepito to the fresas who probably thought they bought tickets to Maná. "This is for you raza: don't be mistreated" Saul continued. The couple next to me, a short-well build guy and a young beautiful lady wearing a piratería Caifanes T-shirt, were hugging each other and listening with their ears wide open, taking their Communion from the Church of Caifanes after far too many years.
For those of you who never heard of Caifanes, the band was one of the first rock en español bands to make it big, way back in the 1980s, when they started off as a Cure ripoff but transformed into something much grander by fusing rock with Mexico's indigenous rhythms. But right when they were ready to take on the world, the group called it quits in 1995 because of internal conflict between Hernández and guitarist Alejandro Marcovich. They reunited at Coachella 2011, fueling the festival's record-setting sellout time (and a bunch of pendejo racists) and have made desmadre since.
Wednesday was no different. Hernández's raspy voice captivated the hearts of the ladies, while Marcovich (one of Mexico's best-ever guitar player) rocked his axe like an hombre would his curvy dama. The band started with their oldest classics, those recorded in the days when Saul looked like a mestizo Edward Scissor Hands. Songs such as "Para Que No Digas Que no Pienso en Ti" (So You Won't Say I Don't Think About You) and "Viento" (Wind) began the set, followed by "Mátenme Por Que Me Muero "(Kill Me Because I'm Dying), a nostalgic cry for a man's end of existence) and "Perdi Mi Ojo de Venado" (I Lost My Deer Eye), about the mystical world of ancient native rituals to remove bad vibes, great juju that Hernández expanded on in his following band, Jaguares. During "Miedo" (Fear), though, feedback from Marcovich's guitar almost brought the concert to a stop; Saul, the magus that he is, gave the band members the signal to slow down, and continued to play the song to its rousing conclusion.
In the middle of the set Saul grabbed a king-size Mexican flag from the backstage area and returned, hazing a crowd cheering for him to sing a mariachi song. He didn't do that; instead, Saul continued his self-help counseling to the masses. "Make out of this life something great," he said, "because it's certain we will die one day." After a few more songs Saul went on to dedicate a song to all the children of this generation. "This one is for the little ones, the little giants of our future." The crowd cheered as if he had manifested the beginning of the Reconquista.
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Caifanes finished with "Nos Vamos Juntos" ( We Leave Together) then left the stage, only to fire up their encore with the obvious: the anthemic "Afuera" (Outside)and "La Célula Que Explota"( The Cell That Explodes). And while Saúl and the chavos do love their Cream-style god-rock, they saved their first hit for last: their remake of the cumbia standard "La Negra Tomasa" (Tomasa the Black Woman). Nokia erupted in a mass dance, a shuffle of feet and blooming of smile that left everyone injected with loads of hope.
1. "Amanece" 2. "Para Que No Digas que no pienso en ti 3. "Miedo" 4. "Piedra" 5. "Aquí No es Así" 6. "Viento" 7. "Vamos a Dar Una Vuelta Al Cielo" 8. "Cuéntame Tu Vida" 9. "Antes de que nos Olviden" 10. "Metamorféame" 11. "Ayer me Dijo Un Ave" 12. "Mátenme Por Que Me Muero" 13. "De Noche Todos Los Gatos son Pardos" 14. "Perdi Mi Ojo De Venado" 15. "Los Dioses Ocultos" 16. "Nos Vamos Juntos" 17. "No Dejes Que" 18. "Afuera" 19. "La Célula Que Explota" 20. "La Negra Tomasa"