(Hollywood) Las familias lined up early at the entrance gates to the Hollywood Bowl Sunday night. Padres, madres, niños and niñas, abuellos and abuelas and many, many amigos and amigas. Some carried picnic baskets and cold chests, some carried delicious smelling shopping bags, others were planning their orders of gourmet dinners and wine from the roving waiters inside. The air was filled with excitement in Spanish, English and Spanglish as people talked about how amazing it was that in one night they would experience three of the biggest names in Latino American Music – the fusion music birthed by Latino-Americans and their brothers and sisters throughout the world.
There were young men and women in Café Tacvba and Mon Laferte t-shirts, little girls in their La Santa Cecelia petticoats, and flowered crowns that lit up like halos on heads of all ages. They were ready for a concert the likes of which LA had never seen before, one with three Latino headliners at the city’s magical Hollywood Bowl. The 17,500 people who streamed into LA’s most beautiful music venue Sunday night were the face of the City of Angles- Latinos, Anglos, Asians, blacks – every age, race, and languge; but it was clearly a celebration of Latino pride. It was the launch concert for Pacific Standard Time LA/LA 2017: Latin and Latino Art in Los Angeles, and it blasted off like an Apollo moonshot.
There were no warmup bands, no openers, no second tier acts Each artist on stage was a star, a Latin Grammy and Grammy nominee or winner, a draw that could fill the seats alone. Each was met with roaring cheers; fans knew their songs by heart and sang with them. When each band finished its last song, it was met with cries of otra, otra – “another one”.
The three bands represented the best talent from across the Americas. Mon Laferete is a double Latin Grammy nominee from Chile with double-platinum and gold albums, two MTV awards, sold out arena concerts in Mexico and a new album, Amárrame, with superstar Juanes. La Santa Cecelia, one of LA’s most beloved bands, has become the voice of the new bilingual and bicultural generation in the US, winning a Grammy, appearing on Late Night with Conan O’Brian, scoring major motion pictures and television series, sharing the stage with Led Zeppelin and John Paul Jones, and releasing El Hielo (ICE), the anthem of the immigration rights movement. Café Tacvba, Mexico’s leading alt rock group, called by the New York Times “Mexico’s most visionary band” has been entertaining in venues large and small in the America’s for 25 years, winning multiple Latin Grammys and a Grammy for its innovative and often irreverent combinations of rock, new wave, punk and Mexican folk music on platinum albums and stunning live spectacle performances, one of which they gave Sunday night.
Each band represented a separate strand of the musical fusion revolution that has been sweeping Latin America and California for decades, and soon will influence the world’s music the way rap has. But on Sunday night, the diverse sounds of the three bands voiced the same message: we are Latinos, we are Americans, and we are proud.
LA Phil’s Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, who conducts philharmonic orchestras in Venezuela and Los Angeles, introduced the program with obvious pride, delighted to be part of Pacific Standard Time’s LA/LA launch concert. Mon Laferte followed, making a dramatic entrance after an intro by her mariachi-costumed band and opening with a traditional, horn-led “Ana” from her La Trenza album, then spread her tattooed arms side and let go with nine high-emotion and high energy songs – most of which were well-known to the audience – while she and her guitar players danced across the huge stage. She ended with her beloved “Tu Falta de Querer”, winner of MTV Award for Best Lain Video of 2016.
La Santa Cecelia took the stage, ushered in by a standing, loving ovation. Resplendent in a Mexican-themed white petticoat skirt and her trademark plastic wide- frame glasses, La Marisol and the band launched into “I Won’t Cry for You” and didn’t stop until the most emotional moment of the evening when requinto and accordinan player Jose “Pepe” Carlos stepped forward with his story.
“I was brought here when I was 5 years old”, he said, “and I lived undocumented for 27 years of my life. We are professionals, we are lawyers, we are teachers, we are psychologists. Tonight I ask every Dreamer here to please stand up. We are not afraid anymore – we are your brothers and sisters and tonight we will keep moving forward….we all belong in this country”
As dozens of Dreamers stood up, the 17,500 people in the Hollywood Bowl cheered. It was almost anti-climactic when the stage lights went from blue to rose and La Marisol sang out the opening lines of “Odiame” from their album Amare de Vivir. But the energy surged back as Pepe got the audience clapping and dancing, energy LSC kept going until finally wrapping up with a wild “Fresas”, complete with choruses sung by the audience.
The mood shifted radically as the stage went dark blue, backed by light boards with line drawing logo symbols. Café Tacvba marched on stage slowly to the martial beat of “Futuro”, surrounded by swirling smoke. Café Tacvba’s psychedelic rock – driven by three sets of drums and led by the irascible Ruben Albarrán in a white mask and Miley Cyrus hair buns continued on past the Bowl’s closing time as Ruben and the band took the audience through ballads, hard rock, regional Mexican songs, punk and their own unbelievable mashups. Each song was accompanied by a customized flaring light and smoke show that incorporated the extensive equipment and galactic space of the Bowl and its flying saucer lighting rig.
At several points Ruben danced through the audience, slapping hands, posing for selfies, hugging children – always with a grin that was visible clearly on the giant jumbotron screens flanking the stage. When Ruben hit the single guitar note to start “Como Te Extrano” the audience took over – they knew the words and the band was delighted to let them sing along all the way through. They energy stayed high all the way through “Chilanga”, “Me Gusta Tu Manera”, “53100”, “Las Flores”, “Chica Banda” and the three – count them, three – encores. Café Tecvba left no doubt why their album Re was named the “#1 rock album of all time by Rolling Stone and they the most bellowed band in the Americas.
It takes a while for 17,500 people to file out of the Hollywood Bowl, but no one cared. They were singing. They were singing Tacvba’s “Como Te Extano”, and La Santa Cecelia’s “Jack” and Mon Las Ferte’s “Si Tu Me Quisieros”. And they were singing as they sat for an hour in the parking lots and garages waiting to file out into the 101 or into Hollywood. Pacific Standard Time LA/LA was launched. The Getty Center’s $16 million, 5-month long festival of Latino art, music, theater and dance was now rocketing into orbit over Southern California.
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA. http://www.pacificstandardtime.org