Sunday, December 16
the Gusman Theater, Miami
There are very few bands around that can continue to garner new, younger fans almost two decades into their careers. Mexico's Café Tacuba, however, stands as one of those select few. Downtown’s Miami old and marvelous Gusman Theater was brimming with twentysomething hipsters Sunday Night for the last show of the band's latest North American tour. The two-hour performance felt like a greatest-hits extravaganza, with songs from every era of Café Tacuba's almost-18-year career. Even better, everyone in the full-capacity crowd stood on their feet, dancing and singing for the whole duration of the band's performance.
Formed in 1989 in Mexico City, the four members of the band are considered to have created the epitome of the genre known as rock en español. Unlike many later Spanish-language rock acts, who merely paste Spanish lyrics onto a typical rock format, Café Tacuba adopted the anything-goes aesthetic of punk rock and added plenty of Mexican folk touches to their fast-pace, surreal ditties.
The band’s willingness to explore and mix divergent genres has led it to collaborations with ex-Talking Head David Byrne and to live gigs with the always-innovative Beck. So it was no surprise to witness the Tacubas show-off their love for rare beats and imaginative arrangements throughout their gig at the Gusman.
Wearing a white, tailored zoot suit with a matching Humphrey Bogart-era hat, lead singer Rubén Isaac Albarrán Ortega launched into the slow burning “Cero y Uno.” After the song ended, a relaxed and smiling Ortega exhorted the crowd to stay on its feet. Pointing at the theater's famous constellation of painted ceiling stars, Ortega said, “"ook how beautiful are all of those starts, and all of you [the audience] look just like flowers…. Please stay on your feet, do not sit down. Tonight we are dancing.”
And the fans did just that, dancing and singing to old and new songs alike. Of course, a special mention goes to the Mex-style-hip-hop-meets-punk of “Chilanga Banda.” It sounds like a fast, hip-hop take on Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life” sung in Spanish — with Mexican accordions shimmering in and out courtesy of keyboardist Emmanuel “Meme” Del Real. Accordingly audience members rushed to the stage to sing and pogo along with the band.
Still, even in its punkest moments, Café Tacuba remained focused on their chords. Underneath the catchy tunes and surreal lyrics lies a great live band that knows how to energize an audience with its unyielding charisma. -- Jose Davila
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Random Detail: The band paying clips of Mexican luchador El Santo during “Alarma”
By The Way: Café Tacuba just released their latest album, Sino, this last October