1) Bajofondo at Stern Grove
Yes, I know at the end of my first post in this same blog I stated that the whole electro-tango thing was dead. But I haven’t seen this guys live yet. I always considered them a second-rate version of Gotan Project, but when it comes to live shows they kick Gotan’s ass big time, and Gotan shows are fucking mind-blowing. So yeah, best show of the year goes to Santaolalla and friends.
2) Rodrigo & Gabriela at Outside Lands
I simply love the fact that the most successful Mexican rock band nowadays doesn’t come from Mexico but from Ireland. Nobody cares about Rodrigo and Gabriela in Mexico and I like it that way. So you can go to their shows and not be surrounded by annoying flag-waving mexirockers. For example you go see Cafe Tacuba and yeah, they put a great show, they play very original music, they are the biggest rock-en-español band among the critics, but you can’t enjoy their concerts because of their fucking annoying crowd who are only there to mosh during the played-out silly hits from the nineties, ignore all the new more interesting music and shout “culero” at the end of the performance. On the other hand, you go see Rodrigo and Gabriela and they put a fucking amazing show, they are equally original and loved by the critics, but if there is one Mexican in the whole crowd he’s the one who’s complaining between teeth “ugh, gringos only like them because they come from Europe, if they stayed in Mexico nobody would care much about them”. And you know what asshole? It’s true! Because if they stayed in Mexico they would still be playing fucking trash metal and who the fuck wants to see the Mexican clones of Slayer? Not me.
3) Babasónicos at The Elbo Room
You could argue I’m partially biased on this one since I was the DJ opening for that show but the thing is I really love this guys and even their worst live performance is musical heaven for me. I saw them live for the first time in 1994 opening for Depeche Mode. What a concert! Since then I’ve seen them many many other times, in Buenos Aires, in Los Angeles, in New York and now, for the first time in San Francisco. My only complain is that they only played songs from their post-Jessico era and I was hoping for some oldies. I was their biggest fan during their Trance Zomba/Dopádromo days and the nostalgic in me was expecting at least one song from those times. But anyway, Jessico (their best album ever, period) changed them forever and they don’t seem too willing to experiment with weirdness and unpredictability anymore. Still the new material is all pretty damn good and you should listen to it more frequently if you haven’t done so lately.
4) Silverio at The Red Devil Lounge
Thanks to the fact that I was also hired to DJ at this show I got to see for the first time this guy whom I would’ve probably ignored otherwise. He really opened my eyes to the infinite possibilities of the music business. I mean, he just goes on stage in costume, he pushes play on a CD player and starts screaming while getting naked. I could totally do that! And I definitely look a lot better naked than him. You’ll see.
5) Thievery Corporation at the Greek Amphitheatre.
They announced Seu Jorge would be there too but he only showed up for one song. I bet all the flag-waving Brazilians where hella mad! Fuck them too. I hate all sorts of flag-waving crowds. People that go to a concert with a flag don’t care about the music, they just wanna meet other people from their same stupid country and I don’t know... pretend to be patriotic while living in exile which is like the biggest oxymoron. I love Seu Jorge but I also love Thievery Corporation too so I didn’t really care, I still had a great time.
6) Rachid Taha at Stern Grove
I once interviewed this guy, like 7 years ago or so, in fucking Los Angeles. He was barely waking up and he was totally hung over. I was like, this is the type of drunk uncle I’d like to have, instead of you know, the other type. Anyway, his show that night was dope and I was addicted to his music ever since. I didn’t get to see him live again until this past summer and I was so happy that I dressed up as a Palestinian terrorist and rode my bike all the way to the park by myself and it didn’t even matter that I had to go home without one single phone number of a middle-eastern chic.
7) Boom Boom Kid at The Oakland House
I’ve been following this guy from close since somebody gave me a tape of Fun People’s Anesthesia back in 1995. Fun People, for all you misinformed jerks, was the greatest hard core punk band ever to come out of Latin America. Don’t even try to argue that. The only competition they get are Los Crudos who were from Chicago. Anyway, Fun People was fucking awesome and I still listen to their albums (in vinyl, bitches) and they still sound great. Their singer, Nekro, later went solo and changed his name to Boom Boom Kid and since then he delivered a consistent amount of awesome records. I recommend Smiles From Chapanoland if you haven’t heard any. Going solo was simply the best thing he could’ve ever done because now, when he goes on tour across the world, he just has to pay one plane ticket and it’s always easier to find some couch to crush when it’s just you and you don’t even carry any instruments or equipment. He just comes to the US, finds a couple of unemployed mexipunks, forms a temporary band and goes on tour coast to coast giving some of the best live performances you’ll see in your whole miserable insignificant life. That’s the way to do it! For the last three years I’ve seen I didn’t miss any of his shows in the Bay Area, this one was in somebody’s living room in Oakland. That’s fucking rock and roll. 101%
8) Toy Selectah at Tormenta Tropical
Not actually a live show, more like a DJ set but still, what an amazing set. Toy is THE MAN and you all know that I love this guy if you’ve read at least a couple of posts in this blog. Tormenta Tropical is always a great party to go, but that night in particular was even better. Toy Selectah is the living proof that musical genius can actually be found within the dump of horrible music that is Mexico. All these other chuntie motherfuckers polluting the airwaves should shut the fuck up and learn from this dude, he’s the fucking mero mero (whatever that means, I never figured it out but that’s what they all say when they refer to their boss and Toy Selectah is the fucking boss of neo-cumbia and by extension of all Latin Music).
9) Cansei De Ser Sexy at Treasure Island
These guys are to Brazilian music what Rodrigo and Gabriela are to Mexican. You wanna go see a great Brazilian band without being tormented by flag-waving pizza-delivery assholes and distracted by super hot chicks in too-close-to-nudity-tacky-colored outfits? CSS is the best choice. Anyway, all those girls are not gonna go with you at a Brazilian music concert, so don’t waste your time with Samba and cheesy Pagode. Cansei De Ser Sexy are truly Brazilian without sounding samba-ish at all, why? Because if you go to the real Brazil (not the tourist infested beaches) that’s what’s up. Young people listen to hip-hop and electro and death metal. The whole Brazilian music thing is just a scheme for tourists and nostalgic emigrants.
10) Buraka Som Sistema at Tormenta Tropical
This African girl was so excited with the Angolan music that she went all National Geographic and took her shirt off and started dancing topless on stage. That, plus some amazing music, and you have yet another great Tormenta Tropical night.
11) Metallica at Oracle Arena
OK, these have nothing to do with Latin music, except for the fact that the name sounds sort of like a Spanish word and maybe their new bass player is half Chicano but he looks all Native American to me. I went through a metal phase when I was like 18 or 19 like everybody else, and saw live shows by Black Sabbath, Sepultura and a bunch of others but I’ve outgrown the übermacho metal posturing ever since. Now my little brother is 18 and he’s going through that exact same phase so I took him to see that show and it was fucking awesome. I just wished I dropped acid first. I would’ve been so much more fun.
Other good shows I've seen this busy year: Manu Chao, The Ting Tings, Fauna, Los Amigos Invisibles, Rupa and the April Fishes, Nortec, La Plebe, Little Brother, Chico Mann, Federico Aubele, Si*Sé, Los Materos, Tom Petty, etc.