La Conquista, Los Terribles del Norte, El Tri

SXSW Live Shots

La Conquista
La Conquista (Photo By Mary Sledd)
El Tri
El Tri (Photo By Mary Sledd)

La Conquista, Los Terribles del Norte, El Tri

Auditorium Shores, Thursday, March 18 If there was ever a more eclectic collection of acts at SXSW's yearly Latin blowout at Auditorium Shores, it's hard to recall. The most traditional of the lineup was the straight-shooting Norteño band Los Terribles del Norte. Cutting fine figures in hot-pink cowboy outfits and sharp black hats, Los Terribles offered a reliable, if somewhat predictable, set to a highly appreciative audience.

No, the acts that turned heads opened and closed the evening: the girl band La Conquista and the legendary El Tri. As for La Conquista, think Bangles, except they look like Bratz dolls. Or think Spice Girls but muy sabroso. Ranging in age from 19 to 25, the girls' vocals are not as mature as they might be in a few more years. This was most evident when the lead singer tried Selena's "Amor Prohibido." Now, if you're going to sing one of the Tejana legend's best-loved songs, you better have the chops to pull it off. Unfortunately, the delivery was weak, but the audience was forgiving. What La Conquista lacks in vocal power they more than make up for with their engaging fusion, best described as pop cumbia, with shades of funk. "Yo Se," their most recent single, is already getting airtime on Spanish-language radio, but it's "La Chica Conquista" that gets the crowd pumping. It's a chica power anthem that's just so darn catchy and fun, you can't help but let it move you.

Vocal power and then some was in ample supply with the evening's headliner, El Tri. These old-school rock & rollers have high-octane swagger and bad-boy antics to burn. Lead singer Alejandro Lora is all cat-scratch fever in tight black pants and has a wicked sense of humor. It's hard to translate just how outrageous Lora is without losing something in the translation. Let's just say between his twin-necked electric guitar that squirts (what one only hopes is) water and a prodigious ability to flatulate on cue (into the mic, no less), he kept the audience in stitches when they weren't immersed in El Tri's tight R&B riffs that have kept them going for 30-plus years.

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