2/12/15 – Mezzanine
2/13 – The Catalyst (Santa Cruz)
Rock en Español/Latin American rock whatever you want to call it, has never been better. The bands that I have recently seen coming from below us always put on incredible shows. So, its really no surprise that the quintet from Monterrey, México Kinky put on one hell of a show. I knew in roughly the first 5 minutes, that I would be off to Santa Cruz for night 2! The band had just released MTV (unplugged) which seems to contain songs from all their different albums.With the opening notes of “Después Del After“, you could already feel the surge of electricity emanating from the crowd. Omar Gongaro, would be the first to appear, somewhat hidden behind his ginormous drum set. One of the few drummers that Ive seen play standing up for the full performance. Then came their out bassist Cesar Pliego (who is just pure energy) and Carlos Chairez (lead guitar). Cesar was already dancing around in his tejana (cowboy hat) and boots and was ready to get the show started. By the time lead singer Gilberto Cerezo came out on stage the entire crowd was dancing and singing along. Adding to the craziness of their set is Ulises Lozano keyboardist/programmer and sometimes accordionist.
Unlike the Santa Cruz set, Mezzanine is a small tight club with everyone pressed into each other. The stage is way too small to incorporate the band and their theatrics to really appreciate the entirety of their show. The video screen in the background was nearly impossible to see from the sides of the Mezzanine and it proved to be an integral part of their show (as I witnessed at The Catalyst). The spaces couldnt have been more dissimilar from each other. The Catalyst was a really wide open spot with a fairly large balcony that surrounds the stage. The stage is up pretty high – with a good 3′ gap between the stage and the audience. So there is definitely a bit of a barrier between audience and band. While Mezzanine seemed a much more intimate experience (up close and very personal), the band definitely thrived on the larger stage and took full advantage of it.While, Id guess that most of their fans are Spanish speakers, it really doesnt matter if you can/cannot understand the songs. You end up just losing yourself to the music. They do a blend of songs in Spanish and English infusing electronic beats into full on rock songs. The band is pure energy and its a non-stop dance party. With songs like “Alma de Neon“, its impossible to not be moving around. Keeping it going, they move straight into the funkadelic “Hasta Quemarnos“.
By the time the band got into even the more upbeat/electronic/dance/rave “Cornman” followed by “Coqueta” with COWBELLS played by Ulises the crowd was a frenzy of arms, flailing and everyone moving. The songs are beyond catchy and when played back to back it just begs for a full on dance party. Adding to the fun of it all was bassist Cesar who by now was jumping around and dancing nonstop hopping on one foot in circles. Plus, we got to have even more accordion playing during “Cornman” with the all too perfect lyrics “Welcome to my world… welcome to my world”. Somewhere in all this were the unforgettable beats of Prodigy‘s “Smack My Bitch Up“. There’s not many bands that can pull this off so smoothly.
The band is incredibly talented incorporating so many different styles along with so many instruments. Gilberto has an incredible voice and such charisma and gives a commanding performance that its hard to even look away from him. Thursday night I was in front of Carlos and he was incredible to watch. Tucked away behind keyboards and guitar strapped to him he was amazing. Friday night was in front of Cesar and he tore it up. He worked the entirely massive stage, sweat dripping constantly from beneath his hat and a huge smile that never left his face. He was also constantly spitting onto the floor; he just left it all out there.
If the music isnt enough to intoxicate you, then lets add visuals. Because this band is nothing short of an aural/visual combination. In the beginning of their set it was usually just the song titles that were flashing on the screen but as the set went on, the visuals became something from a movie. At times it felt like I was caught in a Stanley Kubrick film – with images of a person about to shoot up (oddly enough this not shown during “Smack My Bitch Up”), but to the song preceding it. There’s an arm just laying there as the background morphs into other images. The images were just hauntingly beautiful.
For more on their visual / film love – a great interview is here.
Also, they threw in some norteno melodies and folk music (as I learned from a friend). I was in love with their beautiful version of Los Cardenales “Soy Lo Peor”. They completely changed it up and its just gorgeous. And of course, the entire crowd sang along. It just gives me chills each time its performed – the lush vocals of Gilberto and I’m swooning. Throw in the rhythm section and an upright bass that Cesar just plucks away at and its quite possibly one of the most beautiful songs Ive ever heard.
The band would come back for an incredible encore. All to fitting was Wall of Voodoo‘s “Mexican Radio” which would become pure chaos. The crowd in SC went insane. There was lots of pushing and shoving, pits breaking out and of course a few girls who were beyond determined to get on stage along with security guards working overtime to contain the raucous crowd. And of course, everyone was singing along yelling it out at the top of their lungs. When I first heard it in SF (not having heard it since my high school days at the very least) it was one of those blasts from the past. In SF, a girl easily managed to get on stage and it took 2 of their techs to get her off the stage. Probably a good thing the girls from SC were not at that show (or not close enough to get on stage).
By the time the band got to the signature bass lines of “Mas“, it was hard to imagine that there would be an even bigger blast of energy. The rocked out song with heavy guitars was brilliant. Everyone was singing the lyrics that are all too fitting, “Vamos queriendo mas y mas, mas y mas, mas y mas,” which roughly translates to, “We want more and more, more and more, more and more!” It was hard to not want this to end. If the energy of the show was already at a 10, by this point it had eclipsed that. The band laid it all out and left everyone clamoring for more. And it seemed like the band could have kept going and going.
I hadn’t been to a larger Latin American rock concert since my NYC days when I volunteered a day or two at the Latin American Music Conference. I had really forgotten how much I had enjoyed these shows and how unbelievably awesome they were. Unlike typical American audiences, everyone was there to dance, have fun and let loose. By the end of the show, one of the women constantly trying to get on stage had her arms around me as we were pogoing like no tomorrow. And the crowd in SC rocked. While it was insanity for parts of it, it was an incredibly great show and people thankfully even looked out for each other (at least the women). And if SF was the place to smoke up, Santa Cruz really put it to shame. From the moment the band went on, the place reeked of pot. It just got stronger and stronger.
While the band was insanely awesome, their audiences might have been even more so. If you haven’t yet seen them, go go go. pronto pronto pronto!
The openers were both quite good, but the SF openers Bang Data were nothing short of awesome. The band, from the Mission (SF), also got a guest appearance from Kata of Locura(another SF band). The band, made even more famous from Breaking Bad, really brought the energy. They had the crowd pumped up with their blend of ska meets samba-cumbria infused beats and throw in some hip-hop and the band is banging. Throw in some other songs that are Spanish-English infused and more of the bossa-nova sound and it wont take long before your hips are moving to the afro-electro sound or youll be jumping around in no time. Plus, the lead singer skanks on a song or two. Now that is something rarely seen these days.
Moon Cadillac from Santa Cruz were entertaining enough. They had more of a disco-funk sound and brought out a would-be dance party, if anyone was actually interested. Sadly, they seemed to be a bit stiff on stage and just didnt have as much stage presence as Bang Data to really get the crowd pumped. But nonetheless, they were still good.
Set List Kinky (SF):
Después del after
Alma de neón
Soun tha mi primer amor
Coqueta (Intocable cover)
Una línea de luz
Para poder llegar a ti
Yo soy lo peor (Los Cardenales cover)
¿A dónde van los muertos?
¿A dónde van los muertos?
Sister Twisted / Mexican Radio (Wall of Voodoo cover)
Bien pedo, bien loco