There was a giddy atmosphere at the Belcourt during last Saturday's "Rock+Ska=Kultura" show, even though the hall was only one-fourth full. Bands like the headliners, Curanderos and Chencha Berrinches, two groups of Chicano post-punks from L.A., don't come around here very often; the small, predominantly Hispanic audience was hungry.
After awkward but charming turns by local openers Off Duty Ninjas and Lost Generation, Curanderos kicked off their set with the catchy, U2-inspired title track of their 2003 album, Evolucion Show. By the time the balanced, tight quartet, who draw on Latin styles and British new wave, launched into "Perro," their Spanish cover of Beck's "Freak," most of the audience was in the mosh pit passing around a Mexican flag and a banner emblazoned with the iconic image of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara.
Chencha Berrinches' blend of Latin, ska and punk elements (known as "Mexiska") provided a frenetic contrast to Curanderos' control and polish. The seven-piece band, replete with horns, blazed through their new record Cada Loco Con Su Tema (produced by "Sax" of the germinal Mexican rock band Maldita Vecindad). During Chencha's 90-minute set, which included a breakneck version of the Johnny Cash hit "Ring of Fire," members of the audience joined bassist Rodger Alonzo, singer Christian Merlin and trumpeter Axel Arriaga as they careened around the stage, narrowly missing both their equipment and fellow band members.
If a complaint could be made about the show, it would be to the management of the Belcourt, who offered negligible concessions, closed the bar at the earliest opportunity and brought the house lights up before Chenchas finished their set.
Paul V. Griffith
Best of luck Chris. I'm rooting for you.
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