First of all, i would like to take this opportunity and thank the promoters and organizers of this show for daring to take a risk and bring a band with virtually no presence in Mexico and have them play a free show, just doing it because the band is awesome. Everybody give a big round of applause to them.
One of my favorite things about gigs hosted on the Centro Cultural Español, besides that it's a nice place with art and fine architecture instead of the ratholes that usually host rock shows (which also have their charms, but i do think that the occasional change in setting is actually a good thing), it's that it has such a casual vibe that you can come early, hang around for the soundcheck and no one tells you anything: i arrived just as XBXRX were doing their soundcheck and saw that they were having some problems, like not having a proper drum stool and trying to fix it by having a chair with some bags on it so that the height could be compensated. The band were in their civilian clothes, with the vocalist wearing a blazer and a scarf and drummer Weasel Walter wearing an Immortal long sleeve shirt. The place was getting crammed with people (almost literally) and, actually, kind of started thinking that the people who actually attend shows at the Español are some kind of hybrid between hipster and emo kid, maybe some mutation going on although not everybody present was a poseur; when people started to arrived, they started to play Supergrass' greatest hits thru the P.A.which seemed weird, i would have thought that it would be more appropriate to put something like the Locust or the Blood Brothers or some Load or Skin Graft release, then a DJ got up and started to put a mixture of indie pop stuff that contrasted even more than Supergrass (i still think the idea was to contrast and not because they didn't know what kind of band XBXRX are...or perhaps they just judged them because of their hairstyles?). The DJ played everything from bossanova to i don't know what to call it anymore but very light and bland stuff, of which i only recognized a song from the new Of Montreal album, afterwards they started to play old but still lighter punk shit like the Clash's "Spanish Bombs" and the Undertones' "Teenage Kicks" to give way to the more predictable Joy Division and Smiths selections; the song i liked the most that got played was, without a doubt, "No Fun" by the Stooges, i'm beginning to think that the new super cool classic if you don't pretend to like them you're a tool and, therefore, they are going to get overburned by people (kinda like with the Ramones and the Misfits) are the Stooges, what with them releasing a new album in April; if that does happen, i'm willing to do a test to find true fans as opposed to poseurs by having them listen to "L.A. Blues" and see how they get horrified, without telling them who plays the song.
The first band to play were X=R7 who are from Mexicalli and, i understand, are a side project of Maniqui Lazer, who are pretty cool. X=R7 (i can't stop thinking how derivative their name is) are a drums n' synths duo, they played a really long set (or so it seemed to me) which consisted of monotonous riffs with simple drumming being repeted for 2 minutes at a time, i also can't stop thinking they sounded like if the drummer and the keyboardist from the Locust decided to come up with riffs one at a time and being incredibly lazy in the process; the band was enthusiastic but, throughout their set i kept wondering how many spazztic bands does it take before they all start to sound the same. I love Plague Soundscapes a hella lot too but you have to try and add something new to the mix and not just try to approximate that sound just because it's so crazy.
The next band to play were the much awaited XBXRX, already in uniform with pastel blue bowling-like shirts, who right from the beginning started to do as they usually do, with the singer dude and the guitarist going into the slam dancing with the crowd, without missing a note in any of their instruments; at around the fourth or the fifth song, they did the one where they ask the crowd to get down which title i'm forgetting at the moment, the crowd in front of the stage kind started to follow suit but were still not very convinced, even the singer got off the stage to pull people to the floor; the fact that there was so many hipsters trying as hard as they can to look uninterested didn't help, but, eventually, most of the crowd on the front of the stage (including me) was on the floor, the vocalist said that when he said thrice, he wanted everyone to jump up and down and scream but Weasel signaled him to count to four with his hand and corrected; when he counted to four, the pit exploded to all sides, i even got into the slam action (which i haven't gotten into for a long time now) and the truth is that it was pure classic slamdancing, no Kung Fu-like kicking or any of that shit, it was chaos, it was, like Exodus used to say, "good, friendly, violent fun"; i got into the floor until i got tired and returned to the calm flank (i did return to the pit towards the end). Their set successfully combined material from their latest Sixth In Sixes with their older songs, displaying a slight sofistication on their most recent stuff as opposed to their rawer, earlier shit, even though the difference was just a hair. The band, after hurling themselves to the Mexican crowd, getting on the bass drum, striking the structures over the stage with their guitars and spazz around onstage in general, ended their performance after some 25 minutes since they started, they didn't do like on videos i've seen of them from past shows, destroying drums and guitars in an orgy like the Who on crank, they just finished playing, high fiving and smiling to the crowd who congratulated them for a brilliant, if very brief, set.
In between XBXRX and the next band, my editor Marcelo pointed me to a celebrity among us, it was Chino Moreno from the Deftones (ED: as i was typing "Deftones" i started typing it as "Deer" and i made me think, what if there was a tribute band called Deertones? or how about Defhoof? they would play something like "Dog on the DRIIIIIIIVE/Away/I don't care where just on the sidewalk" or "COOOOOOOOOOME!!/PANDA PANDA PANDA!!!"), Most likely trying to score himself some indie points with his attendance, although he wasn't on a rockstar trip or anything, he was really laidback, talking to people and stuff. He's also lost tons of weight recently, so much so that he can't get confused with the guitar player anymore; well, that's the celebrity gossip part of this review.
Afterwards, Roc & Robots got up onstage, some dudes wearing garbage bags, angular haircuts and keytars (you know, those synths you strap on like guitars); they played a mixture between Wire or Magazine-style post punk and Devo-like new wave, with songs ranging from faithful renditions to the style to stupid shite. Listening to them, i couldn't stop thinking how this was a free show and that it was a good soundtrack for drinking a beer, but they didn't really offer anything, the had nothing going as far as a show was concerned and, had the band gotten together 28 years ago, they most likely would be afraid to try to play this style of music, it's just that now it's fashionable and retro; we actually walked out from the place before they finished playing, we then got to listen to the time-defining classic Ass Cobra by Turbonegro, on the way back home.
Bands like XBXRX don't come play here every other day and it's even better that there's support for gigs like these and we hope to see more of these, that XBXRX come back soon to play a longer show and that, fingers crossed, Weasel Walters decides to bring the Flying Luttenbachers here to give some lessons, because people here need to learn.
AFS v. 377 ~ The Power of Contempt
4 weeks ago