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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Cafe Tacuba Brings Intense Mexican Party to Troubadour

April 23, 1993|ENRIQUE LOPETEGUI

After two sold-out shows on Wednesday at the Troubadour, there should be no doubts that Cafe Tacuba is Mexico's best rock band.

But the Mexico City quartet is far more than a rock group. With their plugged-in acoustic instruments, they combine an original blend of rock, pop and punk with such traditional sounds as Mexican rancheras and tropical rhythms, and on the strength of their debut album "Cafe Tacuba" they've become a key force in the new Mexican rock. Like Maldita Vecindad, Caifanes, et al., they've stopped copying American and British models, drawing their main inspiration from their Mexican identity.

In its L.A. debut at the Troubadour, which was packed with a cross-section of L.A.'s Latino rock audience, Cafe Tacuba staged an extremely intense, fast-paced, anything-goes party, slowing down only for a few songs, including legendary popular singer Agustin Lara's "The Last Laugh of the Cumbancha"--a selection that embodied Cafe Tacuba's embrace of both rock and tropical styles.

Other highlights included a rare guest appearance by major Latin-rock record producers Gustavo Santaolalla (on guitar) and Anibal Kerpel (keyboards). In the second show, Cafe Tacuba called on guitarist Lino Nava, from the Mexico City band La Lupita.

An acoustic band that appeals to rockers and is being increasingly accepted by the folkloric mainstream is attractive enough. But Cafe Tacuba's main asset is its songwriting, whose originality and edge would stand out in any culture.

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