Cafe Tacvba Blows El Techo Off First Avenue


Even after several years of running our blog, I keep running into new music communities in the Twin Cities and find myself surprised at their energy and dedication. I always liked latin music from Shakira (the early days when her releases were all Spanish) to the Tejano music blasting in restaurant kitchens (what good Austrian boy doesn’t like a little Tuba and Polka rhythm) but at the same time, never did dig a little deeper into the scene. So I found myself quite curious at First Avenue for the Cafe Tacvba show last night.

The crowd outside certainly was not your run of the mill white/suburban with a sprinkling of hipster found at other shows there. The Twin Cities Latino community was out in force. My very unscientific method (based on the number of people I saw asking where the bathrooms are) determined there was a high percentage of first time visitors. Turns out they were in for one heck of an introduction to the most famous of our music venues.

The Marias formed in LA as what they call “psychedelic-soul lovechild of LA native, Josh Conway and Puerto Rican-bred, Atlanta-raised María”. At the start of their set First Ave was 80+% full and they were greeted with loud cheers. They set was cool, chill and very interesting. Maria’s voice has a very dreamy quality. The vibe of the band reminds me of the Cocteau Twins with a few twists. The trumpet is mostly jazz, but does bring out a few short Latin undertones at times. The sound is smooth but far from boring.

If there ever was a bar where characters from all your favorites movies and book would gather to hang out, chill, and sip some classy cocktail – The Marias would be the band playing that bar.

Set List: Only In My Dreams / I Like It / ??? The Moon / Ruthless / ?? / Basta Ya / Lovergirl / Dejate Lever

The vibe changed from chill to excited as Cafe Tacvba’s set time grew closer. A short drum test got the loudest cheers I have heard at First Ave with the curtain still down. Volume matched the shriek of teenage girls when teen boy band Why Don’t We dashed from the garage to the green room a few months ago. As the curtain raised to reveal a smoke filled stage shouts of “Mexico! Mexico!” filled the air.

For the first song “Futuro” singer Rubén Albarrán was clad in a mask, and bass player Quique Rangel took center stage in a “psychedelic ghillie suit”. I found myself enjoying their music very much, it’s modern alt rock, with latin undertones. But Cafe Tacvba reaches beyond that genre. I found myself smiling to “Volver A Comenzar” as that song is very catchy and would be more than a match forhits by many US bands more common on alt radio these days.

Between my high school Spanish (complete with funky Andalusian accent), my kitchen Mexican, and my ear plugs I had not a sliver of hope understanding what was said from stage. Judging by the response from the crowd, the band was happy to be there and so were the fans.

“El fin de la Infancia” stood out to me – think of a Mariachi band in a hurry – and was ton of fun. Overall my lack of language skill and knowledge of the artist may have hindered some of my concert experience, but my fun meter still hit 98%. Tor a Monday night, it’s doesn’t get much better than that.

Set List: Futuro / Disolviéndose / Como te extraño mi amor / Me gusta tu manera / Volver a comenzar / Olita del altamar / Un par de lugares / Puntos cardinales / Las flores / Chilanga banda / El fin de la infancia / Déjate caer / La chica banda

Encore: Eres / Enadmorada / Pajaros / El baile y el salón / El puñal y el corazón