Last Night: Chula Vista Soldier Club at Commonwealth Lounge

The Hype:If you're a fan of San Diego's vibrant music scene, you probably recognize these guys as the B-Side Players. Lead vocalist/guitarist SOLRAK, bassist Omar Lopez, drummer Luis Cuenca and trombonist/ percussionist Mike Benge often double as a similar group called Chula Vista Soldier Club, performing Sunday night at the Commonwealth Lounge in Downtown Fullerton. Judging by the amount of people that crowded the dance floor, we expect that you'll be seeing them again soon.


The Show: Three steps into the sleek, modern threshold of the Commonwealth Lounge and spouts of infectious rhythm captured my attention. From the back of the upscale Fullerton hangout, sharp notes of brass and potent bass cut through the crowd commotion as the Chula Vista Soldier Club launched into their second set. They were in good company that included a bevy of tight-skirted Latinas, hip swiveling Cumbia dancers and scores of beer-guzzling dudes. 
Known primarily for their work in the B-Side Players, CVSC (which performed without BSP members Russ Gonzales, Victor Tapia, Aldo Perreta and Reagan Branch) got the crowd going early with an improptu medley of hip-hop and R&B classics spliced with Cumbia flavor.  In seconds, front man SOLRAK jumped from "The Seed 2.0" by the Roots to Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing," backed by a rumbling rhythm section that exercised their ability to go with the flow from one song to the next. With a sound almost identical to anything you'd hear at a BSP concert (although CVSC pays a bit more attention to traditional Latin music), the band incited a sea of writhing bodies that came together under a flood of red light and smothering body heat. It all conglomerated in the perfect release after a stressful Christmas weekend

With a voice reminiscent of Steel Pulse frontman David Hinds (the Latino version), SOLRAK rattled off  a half-hour-worth of bilingual lyrics that dove into traditional quinceanera music, old school reggae and maybe even a BSP track or two. By the end of the night, newfound fans were begging for an encore that seemed to suggest that good music will always trump the fear of getting up on time for work the next morning.

The Crowd: Despite a dismally disproportionate guy to girl ratio before they took the stage, CVSC striking blend of smoldering Latin grooves eventually attracted an equally hot crowd of ladies to make things even again. After all, nothing quells a Sunday night sausage fest faster than some sexy Cumbia music.

Overheard: At one point, a noticeably intoxicated SOLRAK wagged his finger at generous supporters supplying him with drinks all night long: "Fuck you guys...you're trying to get me a DUI for Christmas, that's not cool." 

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