Illustration by Bob AulI've learned my lesson. As I take the following week off to barnstorm with Latin alternative all-stars Café Tacuba on their five-date California tour—this Saturday, they're at the Arrowhead Pond as part of the usually reprehensible Reventón Super Estrella—I will travel alone. I wish I could take a chula with me, especially someone with a brain as big as her bosoms. But if I've discovered anything over these past two years, it's that heartache inevitably follows whenever I combine Café Tacuba and women.
I don't hold it against los tacubos. Their innovative, influential miscegenation of Latin American sounds with everything from Kronos Quartet strings to punk to Beck-style electronic fizz is still impressive, nearly 10 years after they first roared out of Mexico City. I spread that Café Tacuba gospel—shared songs, attended concerts, used Café Tacuba albums as soundtracks for long, steamy nights—and what was my reward? Four unceremonious dumps, each more inane than the last! Sure, the band makes beautiful music, but that's where the action stopped. Let me count the bruises . . .
THE TIGRESS: We moshed with each other for the hyperactive industrial growler "El Borrego" the second time we ever met, at a Hollywood Palladium show. We didn't fall for each other, however, until following Tacuba to a show in Fresno in the lovely spring of 2003. Life was beautiful—until she dropped out on me at the absolute final moment when I invited her to a Kinky/Café Tacuba/Los Lobos showcase at the Hollywood Bowl last summer. The romance subsequently nose-dived, and the last time we screamed at each other was before a Café Tacuba show at JC Fandango in December; that moment ended with me socking her in the back. Song to remember her by: "Como Te Extraño" ("How I Miss You"), a hopeless, jumpy remake of the Leo Dan tearjerker that cries, "Oh, divine love! You have to return quick!" She never did.
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THE VOLUPTUARY: She was at the Hollywood Bowl, bouncing by herself to the buoyantly hectic "Las Persianas." Our first romantic conversation was about los tacubos' sweaty (and wonderful) performance that night. We were supposed to attend that JC Fandango show together where I tangled with the Tigress, too, until she announced a couple of days before that I was too physically timid. The fact that I could perfectly mimic lead singer Elfego Buendía's glass-shattering falsetto apparently didn't do much for my macho reputation. Song to remember her by: "Ojalá que Llueva Café" ("Hopefully, It'll Rain Coffee"), a tumbling, fiddle-driven huapango that's beauty manifest. And I can sure hit those high notes!
THE JEZEBEL: She was supposed to join me at the Hollywood Bowl until I ditched her for the Tigress, who summarily ditched me. While I brawled with the Tigress outside JC Fandango before the December Tacuba show, the Jezebel waited for me inside. We were supposed to consummate our long courtship with a road trip up north to see los tacubosplay the week afterward, but she canceled at the last minute. Turns out she fell for another guy—at that JC Fandango show. Song to remember her by: "Esa Noche" ("That Night"). This bolero's slow, seething, mournful boast—"You shouldn't have left me that night/Because that very same night, I found a love"—is a prophecy all lovers should keep in mind. Take it from experience.
THE SONGBIRD: We were at the same Hollywood Bowl show, but at the time, she didn't know me. Six months later, I dismantled her inhibitions by explaining the political significance behind the acoustic-guitar chant "Trópico de Cáncer" ("Tropic of Cancer"), quite possibly history's greatest song about an oil engineer. We subsequently did everything to the tune of Café Tacuba—took them with us on the road, in the silence of her lonely room, everywhere. Song to remember her by: "La Chica Banda," a boisterous, brash, beautiful celebration of young love. The song lasts nearly four minutes, or one minute for each month we remained together. And it ends with a groan that sounds just like the sound I emitted when she sucker-punched my heart.
Café Tacuba performs with Un Chingo De Bandas Más at The Reventón Super Estrella, 2695 E. Katella, Anaheim, (714) 704-2500. Sat., 5:30 p.m. $35-$85. All ages.