CHULA VISTA, Calif. Anyone with lingering doubts that rock en español is an international phenomenon should have been here Saturday at the second stop on the Watcha Tour 2000.
For one, the crowd at Coors Amphitheatre, only a few miles from a U.S./Mexico border crossing, was multinational. Performers, such as Ozomatli singer/trumpeter Asdrubal Sierra, addressed the audience as "San Diego, Mexico," and the geographic split appeared fairly even, judging by the show-your-colors entreaties of Mexico's flag-waving Riesgo de Contagio. (Actually, they had the tricolores draped over their keyboards.)
And most of the some 10,000 fans readily sang along with the songs of alterlatino groups as far-flung as Argentina's Enanitos Verdes and Colombia's Aterciopelados, not to mention Mexico's Café Tacuba and Molotov.
The nominal headliners, Mexico City art-rockeros Café Tacuba, turned in the most anticipated and most disappointing set of the evening's eight acts, although that was entirely due to a strict midnight curfew that kept their time to about 20 minutes. The always invigorating Tacubas, who opened for Beck nearby on his recent tour, are used to stretching out; their current release, Reves/Yosoy (Backwards/I Am), is a double CD, one of which is filled with a number of instrumental flourishes, such as "11" and "5.1."
The Tacubas barely had to time to launch into their hyperkinetic, programmed-beat take on traditional pop music before their time was up.
Aterciopelados (Velvety Ones) fared much better in their full, half-hour set. The highly anticipated band, with only a couple of area appearances to its credit, won the crowd over quickly with a measured cool that contrasted with the Tacubas' manic energy.
Singer Andrea Echeverri, who shares creative duties with guitarist Hector Buitrago, commanded the stage with her rangy, colorfully tattooed presence and an artful vocal style that undoubtedly would command widespread respect if she sang in English.
"She's rad," longtime fan Jessica Aguilar, 25, said of Echeverri. "She's changed a lot of her music," the Riverside, Calif., resident added. "It used to be more heavy rock, now it's club. But she's awesome."
Ozomatli, the 11-man band from Los Angeles that takes its name from the Aztec for monkey, were the token U.S. performers on the bill. Also, aside from a negligible rap from drummer Randy "El Gringo Loco" Ebright, only Oz performed in English; the raps of Anthony "Kinetic Source" Stout communicated a seriousness of purpose in keeping with his quote from Gil Scott-Heron's seminal "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised."
Neither fact kept Oz, who also sing in Spanish, from creating a world-party atmosphere, fired by percussion, drenched in horns and culminating in the "cumbia Africa" of their song "Como Ves."
The two-decade-old Enanitos Verdes (Green Dwarves) demonstrated the pop sense that has made them a staple on local rock en español radio.
Songs such as "Cordillera" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Luz de Dia" (Light of Day) were fluidly delivered, with guitarist Felix Staiti delivering old-school rock licks with the facility of Eddie Van Halen.
As abrasive as the Enanitos were smooth, Molotov's rude rap/metal hybrid had the crowd screaming for its most notorious numbers, "Chinga Tu Madre" and "Puto" (Coward) (RealAudio excerpt). They delivered those and some moments of surprising melody, from their three-guitarist, two-percussionist lineup.
Riesgo de Contagio (Risk of Contagion) had the same irreverent spirit they also performed a version of "Chinga Tu Madre" which they amplified with cartoon touches, including a salute to the famed Mexican wrestler "El Santo."
The Mexico rap/metal band Resorte and Argentina's self-proclaimed "heavy metal" outfit A.N.I.M.A.L. opened to less effect and a nearly empty house.
Remaining Watcha 2000 tour dates:
Aug. 14; New York, N.Y.; Irving Plaza (Watcha Showcase)
Aug. 16; Denver, Colo.; Fillmore
Aug. 18; Chicago, Ill.; Aragon
Aug. 19; Detroit, Mich.; St. Andrew's Hall
Aug. 22; Worchester, Mass.; Palladium
Aug. 23; New York, N.Y.; Tunnel
Aug. 25; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Quisqueya Stadium
Aug. 26; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Hiram Bithorn Amphitheatre
Aug. 27; Miami, Fla.; Bayfront Park
Aug. 30; Houston, Texas; Metropolis
Aug. 31; Dallas, Texas; Smirnoff Music Center
Sept. 1; McAllen, Texas; Tejano Saloon
Sept. 2; San Antonio, Texas; Observatory
Sept. 3; El Paso, Texas; Xcape Club
Sept. 4; Phoenix, Ariz.; Manzanita Speedway