Mix Masters

It used to be said that Argentina had no "race problem" because she eliminated her blacks and Indians as soon as economically possible. Such mean-spirited banter can't help but contain a grain of truth— which renders ironic how much the biggest hits by one of Argentina's best rock bands derive from Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Brazilian music. Since Argentina never generated much native funk (the tango and Mercedes Sosa are soulful, but not funky), Los Fabulosos Cadillacs have acquired funk by osmosis, reaching across racial and national divides with a clear-eyed irreverence for purity, which steered them first to the cannibalistic aesthetic of punk, then towards miscegenated Pan-American realms previously mapped by the likes of Gato Barbieri, Opa, and Os Paralamas do Sucesso.

Touring behind their newest BMG Latino release La Marcha Del Golazo Solitario, the Cadillacs sustain a big, ballsy sound whether flirting with skacore or a sultry bossa nova. Their heavy rhythm section and sharply defined horns allude as much to early Chicago as to the Mighty Bosstones, even though LFC horns juggle salsa, ragga, and James Brown riffs in ways Chicago never dreamed of.

Leading with their newest karmic parable, "La Vida," the Cadillacs rocked a Hammerstein Ballroom crowd teeming with collegiate Latinos, many sporting Che Guevara T-shirts. Since Krist Novoselic's Sweet 75 was a no-show, the thrash-rap of Shootyz Groove and the salsa-reggae of King Chango served as LFC's multilingual warm-up. Shootyz's aggressive hip-hop energy proved the perfect counterpoint to Chango's giddier, more carnivalesque presentation. Anchored by LFC's stylistic maturity, the three acts transform into something much grander than the sum of their parts— a Latino Voltron of cross-cultural synergy. —Carol Cooper


Lost in Translation

Ally Sheedy's arrival as lead is a reminder that there are two kinds of drag in the great musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Gender: a man (now a woman), playing a man, who tries a sex change, only the job is botched; hence the angry inch. And a second transformation, because when Hedwig's travails turn her/him into one of those extra-gendered "strange rock'n'rollers" the show salutes, an actor has to make that rocker quality plausible, balance pomp with desperation. You think it's easy? Look at Garth Brooks: he's a country and pop star but, as Chris Gaines on his new album, even he couldn't pull it off. Whereas Jennifer Jason Leigh's portrayal of Georgia is this decade's rocker-drag watershed, a crucial grunge touchstone. John Cameron Mitchell, who originated the Hedwig role and whose filmed version we all await, made it rock as extreme cabaret, oddly professorial at Hedwig's most debased moments.

Sheedy pulls off the sexual in-between with flair, clomping about in her boots and then kicking up like a ballerina, sipping delicately on a Zima as she snarls through her life story, pulling rotten tomatoes out of what we'd thought were her breasts. But even as the alt-est of the Brat Pack, she's not a convincing rocker. Especially not as the muse of hair-metal Tommy Gnosis, who's supposed to be shaking the Meadowlands while she performs; the stunning musical scene where Mitchell shifted between the two characters falls off. I'd like to see Sheedy go against type: be less Marianne Faithful, more Sid Vicious, another great nonsinger. Looking ahead, there might be some even more outrageous choices for Hedwig— has anyone thought of calling blues mama Kelly Price? —Eric Weisbard


Fuzz on the Turntable

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Even though raves have graduated from small underground affairs with map points and word-of-mouth rumors to oversized events with equally oversized flyers, venues, and lineups, if Sunday night proved anything, it's that raves are still at the mercy of the Man. New York's finest did a number on Boo, Stuck on Earth's annual pre-Halloween celebration, held this year at Circle Line, shutting down the successful house tent at 1:15 a.m., minutes before San Fran favorite Mark Farina was due on the decks. Downstairs in the main arena, local boy DJ Orion banged his way through some bad breakbeats and good nu-skool breaks in a strangely desolate tent. It turned into an absurd game of musical chairs, with the diminutive Farina taking over for a brief stint playing 10 minutes of deep, organic house. Detroit techno master Stacey Pullen followed with hard, jacked-up funk.

Meanwhile, Green Velvet and the Misfits frantically scrambled to get their gear in order before 2 a.m., when the promoter announced the party was over because too many kids were on drugs and lying around. In true punk rock fashion, they gave it a go anyway, with Green Velvet scatting, shouting, and rapping (or something) for one minute over mashed-up, aggressive beats, looking simultaneously ridiculous and fabulous with green pegs on his bald head and green arm sleeves (the rest of the shirt was, apparently, MIA). Jungle don Grooverider was the only A-list DJ who performed an entire set, and is either the world's laziest jungle DJ or the luckiest, since every other mix was a backspin or a rewind (three for an unknown, unreleased, extremely dangerous SS record, with the filthiest bassline in the western hemisphere). One hour of cranky breakbeats and rumbling basslines almost made up for the stunted evening, which turned out to be more of a trick than a treat. —Tricia Romano

 
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