SXSW showcase reviews
Reviewed by Dan Oko, Fri., March 20, 2009
Speakeasy, Wednesday, March 18
Judging from the span of styles tackled by the Colombian mafia at Speakeasy, a regular salsa hangout, Bogotá is not lacking for musical talent. The range of acts that took the stage for set spots one through four alone could leave listeners feeling like they'd taken a stroll along the global radio dial, though not always in a good way. Tight twosome Verde3 play fuzzed-out pop-rock owing plenty in feel to the VU and its many followers, notably Sonic Youth. Singer Diana Galán hit high, evocative notes and picked out occasional melodies on a Minimoog. Galán's less glamorous but equally talented cohort, guitarist Carlos Champi Benavides, added computer beats to attain a wall of sound. Verde3's English song, "Downstairs," was a sort of lover-next-door fugue, while Galán indicated her pick of the litter was an ode to a lost cow(!), "Margarita." The pair closed with the winning "Mar," a provocative dance number with the English lyric, "It's all garbage Latino trash now." Unfortunately, the metalheads in Ratón Pérez, a young band with plenty of room for improvement, almost made that sentiment come true. Forced to muster through without a bassist, the band deserves kudos for its fun-loving female drummer, Gabriela Jimeno, and energetic guitarist, David Triana, yet the songs all blended into a nightmarish echo of Limp Bizkit fronted by a Henry Rollins wannabe. Popular does not always equal good, and ultimately los Ratóns need to find a tempo aside from full speed ahead. Stepping up to recover the night was post-punk/techno/cumbia outfit Monareta, which banished the cold AC flooding the dance floor and got the head-boppers shaking their tail feathers. Heroes for a night, Monareta enjoyed plenty of high fives after being allowed one of the Conference's rare encores. Then it was back to the pedestrian streets of Rockville with the trio Poper, which had the unenviable job of trying to keep the embers of a burned barn aglow. Suffice it to say, they were professional, not mesmerizing.