The lineup for the Watcha 2000 Tour, the rock en español extravaganza that includes Mexico's edgy Café Tacuba, Colombia's pop/trip-hop duo Aterciopelados, veteran Argentina rockeros Enanitos Verdes and East Los Angeles' worldly Ozomatli, is so impressive even the bands are excited.
"For us it is a very good thing to play in big venues with other great groups. We are very proud to be part of this tour," Enanitos Verdes (Green Dwarves) singer/bassist Marciano Cantero said from a rehearsal studio in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Darryl Eaton is equally proud to be associated with the second coming of the Watcha (Spanglish for "check it out") Tour, which debuts Aug. 11 in Universal City, Calif., and is slated to take in 18 cities.
A Creative Artists Agency representative, Eaton started the Watcha Tour last year along with Kevin Lyman — with whom he had created the highly successful, youth-serving Vans Warped Tour — and Latin band manager Jorge Mondragón. Eaton, the agent for Watcha 2000 participants Molotov, recalled being invited by Mondragón to the Vive Latino concert — a two-day showcase for rock en español bands — in November 1998, in Mexico City.
"I came back and was watching our Warped Tour," Eaton said. "I asked Kevin Lyman, who's my partner on the Warped Tour, 'What if we took out the U.S. bands and added in Latin bands? Just kept the same production, the same stages, and dropped all the Anglo bands in Miami?'
"It was a total experiment, but something we just decided to try to do."
Off To A Good Start
Last year's Watcha Tour was remarkably successful for a new event, Eaton said.
"The amazing thing is, the first-year Watcha actually did better numbers than the first-year Warped Tour. And the Warped Tour has now been around six years, and we're probably going to see 400,000-plus people this year [for Warped], in the U.S. alone."
Last year's Watcha lineup of "alter-Latino" bands included Café Tacuba, who return to this year's edition after opening a tour for the similarly offbeat Beck earlier this year, Todos Tus Muertos, Argentina's Illya Kuryaki and Puerto Rico's Puya.
"I think we were lucky in that we had great bands. It was just a great collection of very talented bands in the area of rock en español," Eaton said.
"And we have learned a few things from doing the Warped Tour and doing other festivals over the years, how to put on a show and how to get it out to the kids. We learned a lot, because it's a different business and a different world than Anglo touring," he added.
As Eaton learned, he was making inroads into the young Latin audience. "A lot of the fans that came to the show were really impressed that all the bands that we had advertised on the show were actually playing," he said.
Eaton also is trying to entice the Warped Tour fans to attend Watcha, which expands from 11 to 18 cities this year and includes an Aug. 14 showcase in New York, in conjunction with the Latin Alternative Music Conference.
Last year, Molotov, hip-hop-influenced rockers whom Eaton described as "Limp Bizkit meets the [Red Hot] Chili Peppers" and responsible for the 1997 single "Voto Latino" (RealAudio excerpt), played on both bills. This summer, Argentine metal rockers A.N.I.M.A.L. are doing the same. (Warped wraps Aug. 6 in El Paso, Texas.)
Crossover Adds To Success
"That's what we're hoping. We try to put one of the rock en español bands on the Warped Tour every year," Eaton said.
Watcha 2000 is loaded with bands such as Argentina's Enanitos Verdes, who have a following in the United States but nothing compared to what they have in South America. In 1995 they played to 60,000 people on a beach in Lima, Peru. "We have pictures," singer/bassist Cantero said, as if he couldn't quite believe it himself.
The Argentines will be emphasizing their latest album, 1999's Nectar (Universal Latino), which includes the anthem "Cordillera" (Mountain Range) and the ominous, sax- and flute-spiked "Tequila." But "we will be playing songs from all our albums," Cantero said. He'll be joined by guitarist Felipe Staiti, drummer Daniel Piccolo and a guest guitarist, Marcelo Lucero.
Twice nominated for Grammys, Enanitos Verdes have 11 albums in all, including 1996's Guerra Gaucha, which was produced by friend Jeff "Skunk" Baxter (Steely Dan, the Doobie Brothers). In fact, having been around since 1979 (with a brief separation at the start of the '90s), the trio are older than the Watcha Tour's target audience.
The musicians speak to the history of rock en español, especially in Argentina, where they don't even represent the first generation of rockeros.
"We have a little bit of Argentinean music, but not the traditional or the folk music. But we have a lot of years hearing Argentine rock, with musicians like Luis Alberto Spinetta and Charly Garcia," Cantero said.
"When I was a kid, I hear Spinetta and Charly Garcia," he added. "So we have a lot of background in the rock of Argentina."
Watcha 2000 tour dates:
Aug. 11; Universal City, Calif.; Universal Amphitheatre
Aug. 12; Chula Vista, Calif.; Coors Amphitheatre
Aug. 13; San Jose, Calif.; Santa Clara Fairgrounds
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