Mexican Smackdown

Indigenous body slam

Mexican Smackdown

Starting sometime around the indigenous body-slam of El Gran Silencio at Scholz Garten last century (1999), SXSW has imported buenisimo acts en Espa–ol – beginning with Mano Negra in 1989 through to Aterciopelados in 2001 and beyond.

This year's Mexican contingent is dominated by nearby hotbed Monterrey, starting with veteran SXSWers Plastilina Mosh and their two-hombre laptop boogie. Album, a self-proclaimed "electronic rock" quartet, plays AIR guitar, while Vaquero slicks up further with gleaming boy pop designed to make the chicas steam and scream. At the quartet's nucleus are Chetes (Garza) and Maurizio (Terracina), who helmed Zurdock through the latter Nineties. Under the same management is Volovan, an equally clean-sounding quartet, with a more modern rock edge.

Clearly, the town's heavyweights are Cartel de Santa, an expert hip-hop fourpiece with two releases, rapping suave over a typically rich Monterrey mix of contemporary and traditional indigenous Mexican styles. Next best on the fight card looks to be Guadalajara's Conspiracion Alfa 5, a post-punk hardcore quartet with a pair of EPs and electro (shock) tendencies. Goes from dreamy to freak-out in 120 seconds or so, staying mostly in Fugazi mode.

Chihuahua's Seis Pistos traffic in middle-finger attitudinal skate rock, "Iggy Pong" sizing them up in a song. Speaking of Pong, Ensenada's Ni–o Astronauta consists of a rhythm section and laptop: "2step/break beat-dance glitch w/rock," according to their Web site. Figured into the equation is "nu jazz," with out-of-this-world samples and down-to-earth bass. San Miguel de Allende's Pilaseca snuck into Austin a couple of times last year, and their Web site's link to the Space Age Pop page is most telling. Funk + house = Afrodisíaco.

Barcelona, Spain, meanwhile, sails over some "Flamenkillo" by Ojos de Brujo – killer Flamenco, castanets, and Princely squawks – packaged as a twofer with their DJ Panko. All that said, at the end of the night, match and title irrevocably go to Bogotá, Colombia's million-dollar baby, Aterciopelados' Andrea Echeverri. Remember that enormous boa constrictor in a carnal embrace with Nastassja Kinski? Echeverri is the musical equivalent. Andale. end story

Mexico @ SXSW

Album (Monterrey); Wed., 1am, Velvet Spade

Cartel de Santa (Monterrey); Sat., 9:30pm, Caribbean Lights

Conspiracion Alfa 5 (Guadalajara); Sat., 10pm, Mambo Kings

Cartel de Santa
Cartel de Santa

Divisi–n Minúscula (Monterrey); Wed., 9pm, Caribbean Lights

El Gran Silencio (Monterey); Wed., 10:30pm, Caribbean Lights

Inspector (Monterey); Fri., 12mid, Mambo Kings

Ni–o Astronauta (Ensenada); Sat., 12mid, Mambo Kings

Pilaseca (San Miguel Allende Gto); Fri., 8pm, Mambo Kings

Plastilina Mosh (Moneterrey); Thu., 11pm, Mambo Kings

Seis Pistos (Chihuahua); Fri., 9pm, Mambo Kings

Sussie 4 (Guadalajara); Thu., 10pm, Mambo Kings

Vaquero (Monterrey); Sat., 11pm, Co-Op Bar

Volovan (Monterrey); Sat., 11pm, Mambo Kings

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