Amoeblog

Best Of 2007, Part 2 - Maneja Beto At The Levitt Pavillion 7/28

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, December 6, 2007 11:03am | Post a Comment

Maneja Beto
comes into town two or three times a year with little fanfare, and that’s too bad. They are the best Mexican rock band out on the scene right now that isn't actually from Mexico. Hailing from Austin, TX, Maneja Beto continues on a path that bands from Mexico no longer follow. Maneja incorporate traditional Mexican musical influences with their Anglo and Roc N' Español influences. At their performance at the Levitt Pavilion in Pasadena, Maneja Beto tore through an hour and half set that featured most of the songs from their brilliant release, Accidentes De Longitud Y Latitud. One of the things that makes Maneja unique is that two of the band members play multiple instruments. Bobby Garza doubles on percussion and keyboards and shares vocal duties with Alex Chavez. Chavez plays keys and a whole array of guitars (electric as well as traditional Mexican instruments such as the Jarana and the Requinto). Much like Café Tacvba, Maneja Beto has great songs and can mix all their influences together and still retain their own sound. But unlike Café Tacvba, Maneja does not have an engaging front person, which perhaps is the reason their rise to popularity has been much slower.

There is a Mexican saying, “Traen la cara de nopal,” which roughly translates to, “You have the face of a cactus." It is what some Mexicans say to each other when one forgets where he or she came from. It’s something one can’t shake, no matter how much you are educated, how much money you earn, where you move to or how much one assimilates into Anglo culture. In the end, you have to look in the mirror and see yourself, "la cara del nopal," the face of a Mexican.

The thing I like about Maneja Beto, with all their painted nails and their obvious love of bands like Joy Division and The Smiths, is that they never try to hide their “caras del nopal.”  I think that many bands from Mexico right now could learn from them.

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Best Of 2007, Part 1 - Café Tacvba 11/29 @ The Gibson Theatre

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, December 2, 2007 02:00am | Post a Comment
Writer's note: The next twenty blogs will deal with the best of 2007. The first 10 will highlight the best shows I had a chance to witness during this year. The second ten will highlight my favorite releases of this year. Nothing will be listed in order, as I enjoyed every minute of the shows and recordings; I can’t possibly pick a number one.

Some of the best rock bands in the last fifteen years have come from Latin America. Throughout those years, Café Tacvba has become one of the most important voices not only in Latin Rock but also in all of rock music today. At their show at the Gibson, Café Tacvba seamlessly flowed back and forth from their early Roc ñ Espanòl material into their recent cerebral songs without dating the older songs or trivializing the new ones. The songs they played from their brilliant new album, Si No, captivated the audience as much as the hits. Their show was part Beach Boys, part b-boy, part Electronica, part classic rock and part indie rock, all at its finest.

Café Tacvba mixed the older hits ("Ingrata," "Eres," "Las Flores," "Maria') with the best songs from the new album ("El Outsider," "53100," and the new wavy "Volver A Comenzar"). The band as a whole was entertaining and played flawlessly. Lead vocalist Ruben Albarran is everything you want from a front person. He charismatic, has a unique voice, and lots of energy, yet never takes the spotlight away from the rest of the group. The rest of the band is solid, mixing live instruments with sequenced beats. Bassist Enrique “Quique” Rangel is one of those bass players that can carry a band melodically, much like John Entwistle did for The Who or Mike Mills does with R.E.M.

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Gomez Comes Alive In Las Vegas - Thanksgiving In Vegas

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, November 27, 2007 09:55pm | Post a Comment
This Thanksgiving I went to Las Vegas to visit my parents. They are now retired and living with the vast number of seniors who have ventured to the desert for the cheap housing, warmer weathe, and, of course, the gambling. There is nothing Vegas likes more than getting those social security checks deposited straight into a slot machine! Coincidentally, my annual visit has fallen on the Thanksgiving holiday. In fact, I don’t like the holiday. First off, to me, celebrating Thanksgiving is basically celebrating the genocide of all the indigenous people of the Americas, and, much like Columbus Day, it is one of my most loathed holidays. Still, what are you going to tell your parents when they invite you to their home for Thanksgiving dinner? “No, Mom, no, Dad, I refuse to celebrate with you because this holiday celebrates the rape, murder and the stealing of the land of indigenous people like you and me...?” However, my ideals are often compromised by the love of my parents. They will win every time.

I remember when they were looking to buy the house they live in now a couple of years back. I drove with my mother to Vegas to check out the house. I remember walking into the place and thinking how “faaabulous” the house was. The owners weren’t there, but because of the numerous naked Greco-Roman statues, posters of Broadway musicals and the abundance of I Love Lucy show memorabilia, I had concluded that the house belonged to an older gay couple. Then there was the backyard. Rome suddenly turned into Martin Denny’s Quiet Village, complete with faux Polynesian totem poles, tropical plants and Tiki torches. My mother, on the other hand, was clueless.

After a quick look through the house, I asked my mother,

“Are the owners of the house an older gay couple?”
She looked at me like I was crazy.
“No” she replied. “I met the husband the first time I came to see the house. He said he had a partner.”
I looked at her like, “And…”
She continued. “Yeah, and he had a cute dog too.”
“What kind of dog was it?” I had to ask.
“A white poodle!”

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The Timeless Classics Of Cheech And Chong - Mexican American, Earache My Eye, Me and My Old Lady

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, November 14, 2007 01:13am | Post a Comment
There were so many to pick from, so I narrowed it down to three.

"Mexican-American" (from Next Movie)

Favorite line: "Mexican Americans are named named Chata and Chela and Chema and have a son and law named Jeff..."


"Me And My Old Lady" (from Things Are Tough All Over)

This is one that slipped my mind for a minute. The song has that country-era Freddy Fender feel to it.

Favorite line: "Sometimes people space us out, so we make like a bread truck and haul buns out of there."


"Earache My Eye" (From Up In Smoke)

I was watching this recently and noticed that one of the horn players is none other than my mentor Ruben Guevara of Ruben and The Jets fame. A few weeks back I got see Ruben perform with members of the band Ollin at The Knitting Factory. They did a version of "Con Safos," Ruben's underground hit from the early 80's.

Favorite Line: "The basketball coach he just kicked me off the team, for wearing high heeled sneakers and acting like a qquuueennnn!!!!"

Happy Halloween! Halloween Picks for Angelenos

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, October 31, 2007 12:20pm | Post a Comment
Nothing beats a Halloween party with your friends. But in case none of your friends are having one (or you have no friends), here's a few suggestions:

Cinespia Presents: The Shining at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

A special screening of The Shining on Halloween night at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Gates open at 5:30 pm, film begins at 7:00 pm. First come, first serve for a $10 cash donation. You’ll be sitting on the cold, damp grass of a cemetery, so bring a blanket -- no tall chairs. Bring a picnic!

Check out a preview of the Halloween feel good movie of a lifetime:

 

Very Be Careful @ La Cita in Downtown L.A.

L.A.'s best punk rock Vallenato and Cumbia group plays at La Cita. The VBC is always a good time. Wear a costume and destroy it on the dance floor!

La Cita
336 S. Hill St
Los Angeles, California 90013
Cost: $8


Low End Theory @ The Airliner
Featuring: Themselves (Anticon), Daedelus, Nobody, Daddy Kev & others.

Check out a rare appearance from Themselves, featuring Dos One & Jel, and the onslaught of great DJ's. But the best thing about this show is the cover charge! This is from their website:

Now, be forewarned: THIS IS A COSTUME PARTY. We'll be charging $5 with costume, $100 without (yes, that's ONE-HUNDRED DOLLARS without a costume). No exceptions. And when we say "costume" we mean head-to-toe. A mask with pair of jeans and T-shirt will not cut the mustard. So please, take some time and get yourself a REAL DEAL costume for the occasion. Full nudity also welcome.

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