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Colombia's Aterciopelados storm Mexicali Rose with explosive songs from their new 'Caribe Atomico' album

By David Espinoza

IT'S A RARE THING to catch a big-time band in a club setting, provided the band isn't from South America. Though the promoters around San Jose most likely missed the boat out of lack of awareness, the folks doing shows at Hayward's Mexicali Rose didn't. Aterciopelados (the Velvety Ones), easily the best rock band to hail from Colombia ever, came to town last Saturday (Dec. 11), leaving many fans from all over the Bay Area thirsting for more (a fact not missed by the promoters, Mexicali Rock, who charged $30 a pop at the door).

Still basically an undiscovered jewel to non-Latinos, Aterciopelados didn't let its status as an arena-size band stop it from tearing things up on the small Mexicali Rose stage. If anything, lead singer Andrea Echeverri and crew took full advantage of the setting, bouncing and swooping about, touching members of the sardine-packed audience when they could. It was an awe-inspiring performance in spite of the fact that it took forever for the band to get onstage. When the group finally came on, stick-figured Echeverri appeared wearing spiked-out pigtails, glitter on her eyelids (with red dots outlining her eyebrows), a frumpy green plastic skirt and a big smile. Dawning her multicolored, sticker-covered acoustic guitar, she began the set with the title track from the band's latest album, Caribe Atomico.

In many ways, Echeverri's music and style represent a cross between Perry Farrell and Ani DiFranco. All three have a raw, punk-influenced attitude that is balanced by their earthy, almost artsy personas. As musicians, Farrell, DiFranco and Echeverri share a talent for stretching the boundaries of alternative music with youthful exuberance, successfully bringing many different styles together through brilliant songwriting.

To their credit, Echeverri and bassist Hector Buitrago have consistently produced some of the best albums in the Latin rock genre since the mid-90s, including La Pipa de la Paz and the landmark El Dorado. What makes them all the more exciting is their incorporation of traditional Latin American music (boleros, rancheras) with rock & roll, lending them a refreshing edge. Onstage, the band pulled out all the stops, playing revamped, adrenaline-pumped versions of favorites like "Cosita Seria," "Bolero Falaz" and "El Estuche." Like many great bands, Aterciopelados didn't have time to play every song off its four albums. Missing from the set was the classic "No Futuro," the Latin American punk equivalent of X's "We're Desperate." Nonetheless, given how seldom Colombian rock bands, even the successful ones, visit these parts, no one could complain.

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From the December 16-22, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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