Review: Café Tacvba at ACL Live 9/7

Cafe Tacvba - Austin show review

A world where one and two year-old children rock out with their parents.  A world where man can manifest the spirit of a bird. A world where the lights seem to have a life of their own. A world where tango-like music creates crowd surfers.

This is the world that Café Tacvba created at the Austin City Limits Moody Theater in Austin, Texas.

By a stroke of luck, I was backstage during the meet and greet with Café Tacvba. I was star-struck when the quartet walked into the room. With smiles on their faces, the band members walked down the line of guests and shook each of our hands. Two pictures later and it was over.

It all happened in less than five minutes. I had missed my chance of getting a spot near the stage, but those handshakes were the highlight of my night.

The show opened with Cilantro Boombox, an Afro-Latin fusion band. The crowd near the stage was dancing to the beats and even those in their seats tapped and nodded along to the music.

Then Café Tacvba took the stage. Shrieks and applause overlapped with the introduction to “Pájaros,” the first track off their recently released album “El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco.” More people sang along to their new material this time compared to their SXSW performance.

The band played crowd favorites like “El Baile y El Salon,” “Las Flores, ” and “La Ingrata,” all of which induced jumping and singing. And when the love song “Como Te Extraño Mi Amor” began, there was unison of voice and the women took to forming hearts in the air with their hands.

Things then quieted down. Even the lights, which had danced to every beat and change of rhythm, were turned down.

An inflatable tree rose from the stage, making me think “Arboles Frutales” was the next song. But instead, with eyes closed and an ardor that seemed to penetrate his heart, frontman Rubén Albarrán began singing the melancholic song “De Este Lado Del Camino.”

Cafe Tacvba - Austin show review

By far my favorite performance of the night was “Zopilotes.” This somber song, that tells the story of a vulture eating human flesh, has a meaning that hits me deep, as weird as that sounds. With the tree set as the background, Rubén transformed into the “vulture” as he stepped out wearing a bird beak and eyes on his head and wings that spread to his arms. He swayed and flapped his arms creating a mystical environment that depicted the band’s bold spirit and passion for their music.

The previous slow songs had left a solemn tone, but “Agua” got things lively once again. The inflatable prop came down, and the venue was turned into a wonderland as laser lights beamed throughout the venue and foam came down on the crowd.

The band played more material from their latest album, “Tan Mal,” “ Yo Busco” and a personal favorite of mine that makes my heart happy, “Olita Del Altamar.”

Of course, their hits like “Volver a Comenzar” and the Chilango slang rap “Chilanga Banda” were greeted with high energy. And when the band played “Dejate Caer,” everyone knew what was coming. For those who didn’t, they were in for a surprise. As the song began, green lights flashed to the beat of the drum and the band performed their choreographed dance routine.

The band wrapped up the presentation of their latest album with the last track, “Volcan.” Red lights dominated the stage and as the song intensified, inflatable strips rose from the stage, representing the volcano in the song. The whole scene was hypnotic: red and green lights flashing rapidly with the “volcano” on the stage as Rubén’s voice resonated throughout the venue.

The crowd chanted for more after the band left the stage and were rewarded with an encore. Keyboardist Meme (Emmanuel del Real) took the spotlight as he sang the love song that everyone was waiting to hear the whole night: “Eres.” It’s another personal favorite, and I sang my heart out with the rest of the fans.

After the slow song “Aprovéchate,” fans released their pent up energy with “La Chica Banda.” People jumped higher and sang louder than before. Finally things got even crazier. Café Tacvba closed the show with the tango-influenced song, “El Puñal Y El Corazón,” which brought out the crowd surfers.

If the band’s mission was to transport the crowd into the Tacubos world—to enable fans to absorb the music and become one with it–then they did something right.

–Elizabeth Blancas

Setlist:

Pajaros

El Aparato

Andamios

El Baile Y El Salón

Como Te Extraño Mi Amor

Las Flores

La Ingrata

De Este Lado Del Camino

Trópico de Cáncer’

Zopilotes

Agua

Olita Del Altamar

Debajo Del Mar

Volver a Comenzar

Dejate Caer

Yo Busco

Chilanga Banda

Tan Mal

Volcan

Encore:

Eres

Aprovéchate

La Chica Banda

El Puñal Y El Corazón

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