Friday night, March 24th, marked the return of Argentine band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, who graced the city of Los Angeles with their signature ska sound and the captivating distressed voice of Vicentico, the lead singer, at the Microsoft Theater.
The band began their set a mere thirty minutes after 8pm (don’t they know that most Angelinos, regardless of their country of origin, run on ‘Mexican time’ and we can’t possibly get there at 8pm on a Friday night in LA traffic?!). Anyways, the recognizable riffs of “Mi Novia Se Cayó en un Pozo,” started off the night of singing and skanking, followed by the politically-charged ode to the elusive character central to “Manuel Santillan–El León,” as well as the throbbing trumpets characteristic of “El Genio del Dub.” They played various songs from their extensive discography that spans back thirty years, with fan favorites like “Vasos Vacíos” originally featuring ‘Queen of Salsa’ Celia Cruz, and the catchy-tuned but heart-wrenching “Vto Centenario.” Not amiss were a few songs from their 2016 album La Salvación de Sólo y Juan, such as the haunting yet upbeat “Averno, el Fantasma.”
The beauty of the night was not just in the much healthier-looking Vicentico, Sr. Flavio with his bumpin’ bass, Sergio struttin’ his stuff on sax, or even the sons of Vicentico and Flavio Cianciarulo–Florián Fernández Capello (guitars) and Astor Cianciarulo (drums and bass)–as progenitors incarnate of the band, but rather, it was the nostalgia of rock en español concert-goers, which has been (dare I say) long since forgotten about in LA. Yet, the massive audience—a sea of strangers with Argentinan and Mexican soccer jerseys strewn across their chests swaying in the orchestra sections whilst chugging beers, locking arms, high-fiving, singing with fervor, dancing down the aisles, and embracing one another in what can only be called that signature rock en espanol comraderie, reminds me of what always brings different AlterLAtino countries and cultures together: la música. The difference between rock en español’s heyday in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s and twenty years later to now is that as you watch the band perform, you see a slew of cell phones along the stage horizon, as evidenced here, but still, the passion and the admiration remain just as intense.
Fabulosos fans chanting the opening tune of “Ya No Me Sentaría En Tu Mesa.” (Yeah, yeah, I took pics and video, too, so I’m just as guilty of 21st century technology.)
For a brief night, rockeros—old and new (but mostly middle-aged)—crooned along with more mainstream songs like “Matador,” and “Mal Bicho,” and amongst the crowd I knew and loved so well in my younger years, I couldn’t help but think how the recent LA Weekly article about new LAtin alternative bands breaking down old barriers is just…not quite right. It’s not entirely wrong, either. Millennials want their own divergent space and that’s totally bueno. But the writer is missing a key component to the rock en español movement, because she likely never formed any part of it–but that’s because what characterized rock en español’s heyday was the unifying force of LAtin passion, identification, and solidarity, or as Celia Cruz so uniquely put it, “¡Azúcar!” It’s not something I can find in the “mash-it-up-and-see-what-happens approach” when it comes to more recent “Latin Alternative” shows. There’s none of that azúcar, none of the same sazón. Which is what makes the fact that Fabulosos Cadillacs filled the enormous venue to capacity so intriguing–it’s telling us that people may say rock en español is dead, but as evidenced in my videos and pics, it is still very much alive…and as vibrant as ever.
¡Qué viva el rock!