By Bob Ruggiero
By Hilary Hughes
By Peter Gerstenzang
By David R. Adler
By Devon Maloney
By Brian McManus
By Jessica Hopper
By Harley Oliver Brown
If you're a Spanish-speaking artist looking to succeed without recording theme songs for telenovelas, packing your videos with thong-clad nubiles, or singing in English, the Latin Alternative Music Conferencethe annual parade of concerts, parties, panels, and workshops, now in its eighth year hereis the place you need to be. It's also interesting if you're a music critic trying to trick editors into printing pieces on sound-collage whack-job Mexican Institute of Sound (shhh . . . he's secretly also the music director of EMI Mexico), Monterrey-based punk-pop band Panda, Chilean Franz Ferdinand impersonators Los Bunkers, or any of the zillion other fascinating and stereotype-shattering Latin acts bouncing around these days.
Fortunately for civilians, the LAMC also brings with it a mini-wave of killer live shows during its four-day lifespan. Herewith, a brief rundown of the awesomeness that will engulf Manhattan (and Prospect Park) for the next four days:
Wednesday, July 11, the Mercury Lounge hosts the LAMC Indie Showcase. B-Side Players and Upgroundthe latter making their NYC debutare oversized (six to eight members each) bands that combine ska, funk, reggae, various Latin sounds, and rock into heady, hip-shaking blends. Hip-hop crew Cuarto Poder hail from Venezuela, while gentle indie rockers Austin TV and Bengala are both from Mexico City.
Some of the same bands (Cuarto Poder, Bengala, and Mexican power-pop trio Liquits) will also be displaying another side of their sound Thursday night at S.O.B.'s for an all-acoustic bill. That ought to be interesting, if only because sets by the Pinker Toneswho composed the theme to the hilarious mun2 "reality" show The Chicas Projectand Pacha Massive have been promised, and to call those two acts "technology-dependent" would be a massive understatement. Also on Thursday night, though, Spanish rapper Mala Rodríguez (not a reggaetónera, even though her terrific new disc, Malamarismo, is out on Machete Music in the U.S.) will be at Bowery Ballroom along with Panda and othersso if delicate strumming isn't your thing, you've got options.
Friday night, the Pinker Tones will be plugging in for a Prospect Park show with singer-songwriter Chetes (formerly of '90s Mex-alt titans Zurdok) and the Britpop-in-Spanish act Zoé. The big show is Saturday afternoon, though, when the still-reigning kings of Mexico's alternative/art-rock community, Café Tacuba, headline at Central Park's SummerStage. I saw them perform to a packed, screaming crowd at B.B. King's in 2001; it was one of the greatest shows I've ever seen, by anybody, in any language. Be prepared for mass sing-alongs and the earth itself shaking as thousands of crazed rockeros and rockeras bounce to the beat. It's entirely possible that there will be new material performed, as the group is currently working on their next album (go ahead, call it a comeback2003's Cuatro Caminoswas way too disjointed and Flaming Lipsdamaged for my taste) with über-producer and Latin-alternative godfather Gustavo Santaolalla. Pacha Massive and La Sista, a highly regarded female MC from Puerto Rico, will also be on the bill. Basically, if you can't find something to kick your ass in the next four days, you're beyond help.