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Bridging the Small Gap Between 2 Rock Cultures : Pop music: 'Revolucion '94' concerts will showcase the bond between Mexican bands and U.S. alternative rockers.

March 10, 1994|ROBERT LEVINE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

This weekend's "Revolucion '94" concerts are a groundbreaking attempt to bridge the gap between rock en espanol --rock with Spanish lyrics--and U.S. alternative rock.

"Living in L.A., I think it's very evident that we have to understand each other's cultures more," said concert organizer Marusa Reyes, the manager of the four Mexican bands on the concerts, which will be Friday at the Open Air Theatre in San Diego and Saturday at the Universal Amphitheatre. Both shows start at 6 p.m.

"I think this should have happened 30 years ago, not only with Mexican music, but with all the arts," added Reyes, who has also included an art exhibition at the Los Angeles show. "The arts in general will help us get along better."

The lineup for "Revolucion '94" features rock en espanol bands Caifanes, Maldita Vecindad, Santa Sabinaand La Castaneda, as well as American alternative rockers Redd Kross and Live.

Guitarist Adrian Belew, who will open the shows with an acoustic set, first became interested in Mexican rock in 1992 when he was approached to produce Caifanes' latest album, "El Silencio." While in Mexico City meeting with Caifanes, he saw Santa Sabina perform and decided he wanted to produce an album for them as well.

"There's an explosion of music going on there," said Belew, who has played with King Crimson and David Bowie, among others. "The music, despite the language barrier, had a touching effect on me."

While the Mexican bands have all been influenced by traditional Mexican music, they also share a style and an audience with American alternative bands.

Playing a blend of Mexican music and alternative rock, "Revolucion" headliners Caifanes are one of the most popular bands in Mexico, and helped open the doors for other Mexican rock bands. Santa Sabina plays edgy art-rock, and La Castaneda adds rock guitar to a complex, rhythmic sound.

The eclectic Maldita Vecindad mixes ska, funk and various forms of traditional Mexican music into a tight groove somewhat reminiscent of Fishbone's.

Growing up in Mexico City, the band's members listened to everything from bolero and tango to the Sex Pistols and the Clash. Maldita Vecindad takes its Mexican influences and updates them, integrating them with rock music.

Said Pacho, the band's drummer, "We don't want the mariachis to be the only symbol of Mexican musical culture."

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