by Claire Frisbie
Saturday was the day to attend Vive Latino 2012—some of the most buzzed about acts of the past year were performing, Café Tacvba was headlining, tickets were sold out, and the sun was shining. We had our day mapped out to the minute.
Columpio Asesino were already on the main stage, and I regret to report they were a bit underwhelming, but to no fault of their own, really. Their set was solid, but their music is too dark for blinding sunlight, methinks. The rather lethargic crowd did rise to the occasion, however, when they played “Toro,” cheering raucously when guitarist Cristina shouted—riffing on the song’s lyrics—, “Para que ir a Berlin si podemos estar aqui con ustedes en el Vive Latino?” (“Why go to Berlin if we can be here with you at Vive Latino?”). Seriously.
Next we dashed over to the Carpa Intolerante for Perrosky, who were the revelation of the day for me. It’s incredible the layers of garage rock, blues, and rockabilly the brothers Gomez are able to generate between just the two (2!) of them—it was as if Elvis had been somehow reincarnated in these two skinny Chilean dudes. Raw and refreshingly devoid of synthesizers and other gadgets, Perrosky rocked my world with a drum set, guitar, harmonica, and maraca.
Keeping things retro, we returned to Escenario Indio Verde for Vive veterans and música surf faves Lost Acapulco. The crowd had at least doubled if not tripled in size, and everyone was bopping, moshing, and doing the twist to hits like “Olvidemos El Romance” and “Frenesick.” I genuinely appreciate their whole shtick: the luchador masks, vintage visuals of shimmying vedettes, and misogynistic-but-we’ll-let-it-slide-this-time rapport between songs, but it kind of got redundant. We were just about ready to move on when the band started in on a cover of Los Saicos’ “Demolición,” which was easily the highlight of their set for me, even if no one else seemed to know the song.
Photo by Marlon Bishop
Then it was Astro time. We power walked over to the palm tree-flanked Carpa DanUp aka la Carpa del Yogurt aka la Carpa Tropical. I couldn’t have imagined a better setting to see Astro for the first time. The four guys burst onto the stage making monkey noises and launched into “Mono Tropical,” looking like hipster Trader Joe’s employees/Miami Vice extras in loud patterned shirts, skinny jeans, and sunglasses. There were some sound issues, but their energy was totally infectious, and man, what a show! Singer Andrés’s voice is absolutely incredible (and really is that high!), and keyboard player Nicolás had the lanky dude hip shake down. To the delight of the audience, they proclaimed DF their favorite place to play, and added, “En Chile nos quieren, pero acá mucho más!” (“In Chile they love us, but here [they love us] much more!”) And how. Astro was one of the bands I was most pumped to see at Vive, but part of me had been worried that their music might not translate to the outdoor stage. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Can someone please book a Panda Bear/Tanlines/Astro U.S. tour ASAP? Thanks.
Next up was one of my main motivations for coming to Vive this year: Juan Cirerol. Chicali’s bad boy troubadour has me completely enthralled, but I can conclude with absolute objectivity that he kicked some serious ass. I mean, he was trending on Twitter during the show and, if that doesn’t justify one’s badassness, I don’t know what does. Cirerol is a beast on the guitar, his singing style is so raw and earnest. He powered through “El Perro” and “La Banqueta,” and it was hard to believe that all this ruckus was coming from just one man. His stage presence is phenomenal, doused with booze and burps, his signature scrunched brow, the occasional air-split (that would be a jump and attempted split in the air—yep, he did that!), and norteño swagger for days. The overflowing Carpa Intolerante yelped and sang along with genuine fervor and joined in for a massive sing-along to “Se Vale Soñar” (extra cheers when he wailed “todos borrachos y locos”) and “La Chola,” which closed out his set. Todo más que fine, Juanito.
Cirerol’s set left me craving a stiff drink, so we breezed past the main stage (Camilo Lara aka Instituto Mexicano del Sonido in a kilt and colorful man-tights mashing up “Alocatel” and “Hey Mickey” with the guys from Calexico as his backup band), to re-fuel with sandwiches and dranks. Then it was back to the yogurt tent.
Carla Morrison. Oh my GAWD, Carla Morrison. It was truly an impressive thing to see the thousands and thousands of fans who came to see her at Vive: teenage girls with tears streaming down their faces, families with young children, embracing couples. By the time she cooed “tu me enchinas la piel” my entire body had been covered in goosebumps for, like, ever. It was refreshing to see her with a full band—her usually sparse accompaniment translates beautifully to more complex instrumentation. In the days leading up to Vive, she’d reached out to fans via social media to bring handkerchiefs to her show, and perhaps the most powerful moment of her set came when everyone waved them in the air and danced along to her latest single, “Hasta La Piel.” Next year, to the main stage!
Then there was an audience switch-up: out with the angsty teenagers, in with the fashiony hipsters. The screen to the right of the stage glowed “MENA” and chants of “Javiera, Javiera” began. I wasn’t sure what to expect given the conflicting Festival Nrmal and SXSW reviews on this blog, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised. I should also let it be known that I am not a diehard Javiera Mena fan (gasp!), and while I thought she sounded better than on her albums, my friends actually thought otherwise. Javiera: so polarizing! As in the case of Carla, the support of a full band (Jose and Rai from Dapuntobeat, plus a female keytarist/backup singer) worked to her benefit. Real drums added a lot to tracks like “Primera Estrella” and “Hasta La Verdad,” and the keytarist helped pick up some slack on Javiera’s sometimes weak vocals. What do you think?:
Meanwhile, la Carpa Intolerante was channeling Colombia as Monareta powered an electro-cumbia dance party. I’d like to point out that there was a dude on stage who played the cowbell with sincere concentration for the duration of their set. I can respect that. We joined the dancers and cheered in agreement as frontman Andrés shouted “Que viva la Carpa Intolerante!” Amen!
Then it was Tacvba time. I think the official headcount for Saturday was 70,000, and pretty much everyone who wasn’t moshing to Hocico over at Indio Blanco was figuring out the best spot to see Mexico’s most important band from. As we all waited for them to come on stage, anticipation growing, spotlights shot straight up from the center of the stadium, and out came a stage from behind the soundboard, Tacvbos on top.
Photo by Natalie Espinosa
As Ruben, Meme, Quique, and Joselo rose from the crowds, chants of “papa-ra-papa eo eo,” queued them up for their first song. They'd been on hiatus for the past few years, and they really brought out all the hits at this show. There was no waiting around through mediocre Sino tracks for your favorites tonight. After “El Baile y el Salón” came “Eres,” followed by a reggae/dub version of “Como te extraño.” The sound was horrible, but we didn’t care! Then came one of the coolest moments of the night. Instead of singing hits by Maldita Vecindad, Aterciopelados, and Caifanes in their standard “Popurock” medley, Café Tacvba proceeded to cover Nortec Collective, Hello Seahorse!, IMS, Porter, Carla Morrison, Quiero Club, Plastilina Mosh, Kinky, Dapuntobeat, Enjambre, and Zoé. I don’t know what was more moving: the fact that these giants of Mexican music were paying tribute to the next generation that they helped establish, or the fact that everyone in the audience seemed to know the words to the songs by these comparably smaller artists.
Post-popurock, the band ran (and Rubén, still on his cane, hobbled) through the audience to the stage. Unfortunately I can’t really tell you how the rest of their performance was because, with almost 70K people singing along at the top of their lungs, I could barely hear a thing actually coming from the stage, and honestly I didn’t mind. My inner repressed sociologist couldn’t help but stop and think how bizarre and cultish this all was, and wonder why we found it so enjoyable. But I quickly snapped out of it and joined all my new friends in screaming the lyrics to “Las Flores.” Better than therapy, I’m telling you!
You can peep the full setlist here, but it is worth noting that despite his injury, Rubén pulled through and joined the rest of the guys in the “Dejate Caer” dance (easily one of their best songs live). Oh, and they did perform one new song, “Charro Negro,” which honestly sounded pretty dull to me.
After wishing us, our parents, our uncles, grandparents, friends, etc. peace and water (seriously!), Café Tacvba bid us adieu with “El Puñal y el Corazón.” “Ya no puedo más…..” Oh what a day!