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[whitespace] East L.A. Nexus

Party band East L.A. Sabor Factory charged up UCSC festival

By David Espinoza

AFTER SPENDING the last few years being bounced from the Upper Quarry to the East Field due to construction, the annual UCSC Multicultural Festival may have found the perfect home on the Oakes College Field. Last Saturday's setup was basically a smaller version of KPIG's Fat Fry at Aptos Park, with food booths (practically all of which sold out by 3pm) lining the perimeter of the stage, providing an ideal intimate setting. Instead of Americana music, though, the 22nd annual festival featured the sounds of the next generation about to take charge--hip-hop with a little Chicano soul.

Sunny, postcard-perfect skies and springtime pheromone levels at record highs had the crowd ripe for the pickin' as the 11-member East L.A. Sabor Factory came onstage. A quintessential Chicano party band if there ever was one--with a DJ, timbales, congas and a full horn section that can throw down some funk and quickly switch to salsa--East L.A. Sabor Factory plays un poco of everything: salsa, rock, hip-hop, reggae and funk.

The reggae-cumbia connection (made popular by Ozomatli but most likely discovered by Quinto Sol) is by far the group's best weapon, and the Sabor homies knew to add a little synchronized dancing for the audience. Like its radical Chicano contemporaries out of L.A. (Aztlan Underground, the Blues Experiment), East L.A. Sabor Factory sings and raps in both English and Spanish--though it's really in the zone when it sticks to jamming on reggae-cumbia beats.

A brief aside: It's interesting to note that the scene in L.A. that brought us Ozomatli is a result of young Latinos reclaiming their parents' music (e.g., banda, cumbia, salsa), especially given that a few of the guys in East L.A. Factory started off playing death metal and ska.

Representing Oaktown, Cali, and balancing out the L.A. delegation, hip-hop quartet Souls of Mischief closed the evening with a strong but less-than-inspirational set. Outdoor festivals work best with big bands, and Souls of Mischief had a hard time filling up the stage even with four members. Their best moment came when after completing the standard hip-hop audience-tease (starting the song, then stopping after a few seconds with "Hold up, hold up, I said, how many people up in this right now are ready for this?"), one of the MCs warned the audience about getting caught by the police for smoking weed and encouraged everyone to pass their joints up to the stage so Souls of Mischief could "guard it."

Blackhearts & Jetts

It's official, the new and improved Rio Theatre stage is now blessed with MTV rock-star sweat. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts steamrolled through their May 6 set like the '80s powerhouse arena rockers they are (minus the big hair and presumably minus the cocaine). Playing to a sold-out audience that was equal parts grown-up New Wavers and fledgling twentysomethings who were probably 2 years old when they first heard "I Love Rock & Roll," Jett, with her signature raw voice, had both guys and girls ready to toss their underwear onstage.

Backed by a very pale pasty male band in '80s garb (muscle tees, guitars hanging below the waist), Jett was rowdier than a WWF wrestler and twice as badass. Jett's always been a balls-to-the-wall machista chica, and her new bald hairdo helps--the amount of naughty sexual tension that she injected into her audience could solve California's energy crisis if channeled properly.

Estradasphere Conquers Evil

In the correction section: Estradasphere's new album is called The Silent Elk of Yesterday, not Buck Fever--be sure not to get the titles mixed up at the band's CD-release party this Saturday (May 12) at P-ville lest ye be beheaded by John Whooley.

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From the May 9-16, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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