Concert Review

Café Tacuba Party Down at Celebrity on Nov. 19

By Michael Lopez Calling the crowd that made it out to the Celebrity Theatre Wednesday night receptive would be selling them short by a mile. Every song played by Mexican alt-rockers Café Tacuba whipped the crowd into an absolute frenzy that didn’t die until the house lights came on. I must admit, I didn’t understand much from the night since the band sings in Spanish, which would make sense given their best befitting genre is “Rock en Español.” Not understanding the lyrics did not hinder the night for me as I may have imagined. Café Tacuba is a band that prides itself on its boisterous live shows and its loyal fan base. While I could not understand much of the lyrics, I could clearly understand how much fun the band was having, both in their faces and in the faces of their fans. The band’s has quite the following in the United States, as anyone present at Wednesday night’s well-attended show could see.

Café Tacuba has had the same lineup since they formed in 1989, lead by the provocative Rubén Isaac Albarrán Ortega, better known as Pinche Juan (Fucking Juan) to his most endearing fans. Albarrán took to the stage in his now trademark white suit jacket, skin-tight white pants, and white oversized derby hat, complete with eyeholes so he could pull it down to the bridge of his nose and still see out. He is quite the charismatic lead singer, at times resembling a Mexican version of Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist from The Hives. Albarrán kept the crowd in a frenzy as the rest of the band rolled out their unique, oftentimes unclassifiable brand of Mexican rock music. The night’s set contained plenty of songs from Café Tacuba’s 2007 album Sino (or Sí No, depending on who you ask), an album that displays the band’s true alt-rock chops. The opening bass riffs of “Volver a Comenzar” drew cheers from the crowd before they could be drowned out by super-cheesy synths. The 7-minute plus opus features dual singers, blissful rock riffs, and plenty of keys. “Cierto O Falso” captured a grunge vibe while showing off the band’s super catchy hooks, which were sung throughout the night by what seemed every member of the audience but my non-Spanish speaking self.

Café Tacuba maintained a solid momentum throughout the night, which is quite an accomplishment seeing as they played for roughly 2 hours, save a brief intermission before their encore. Watching a band like that play I could not be more amazed at how selfless they were and how much it meant to them to see their loyal fans enjoy themselves. Part of this enjoyment involved a few female fans flinging their bras up on stage as Albarrán channeled his inner-Tom Jones. He invited those bold female fans up on stage to dance with him, as any polite guy would in that situation. That innocent invitation turned into a scrum of about 50 women - and some guys - all crowding the lead singer as he tried desperately to finish his song amid the mass of humanity. Watching those fans dance around the stage was quite the sight, and it couldn’t have been any indicative of the atmosphere in the Celebrity Theatre Wednesday night. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from Café Tacuba’s set, but I can say that I walked away from that concert reveling in how loyal the band was to their more than deserving fans.

Critic’s Notebook:

Last Night: Café Tacuba at The Celebrity Theatre on Nov. 19.

Better Than: A stuck-up American band telling their fans to fuck off by ending their set early.

Personal Bias: I am of Mexican heritage, and it made my heart swell with pride to see Café Tacuba deliver such a selfless, solid set.

Random Detail: Near the end of their set, the four original members of the band all danced to a choreographed routine that ended with a Crane Kick, a la Daniel LaRusso from The Karate Kid.

Further Listening: Revel in “Volver A Comenzar.”

By The Way: I wish I spoke more Spanish so I could have remembered more than a few songs from their set – and maybe so I could have sung along with everyone else.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Martin Cizmar
Contact: Martin Cizmar