After their split in 2002, Mexican ska band Tijuana No! has occasionally reunited to play homage to Luis Güereña who passed away of a heart attack two years after the split. Last Friday’s show at the Congress Theatre was no exception. Having not released an album since the 2001 release of Lo Mejor de Tijuana No!, it was a night that was destined to revive their classic sound of the early 90s.
As part of their AWEBO! Tour 2013, Tijuana No was accompanied by GALLO, and Chicago natives The Lizard Kings and Los Vicios de Papá.
Opening up the night were The Lizard Kings, a tribute band to The Doors. Among the hits played were “Touch Me”, “Break on Through (To the Other Side)”, “Alabama Song” and “Light My Fire”. While lead singer Al Logan is no Jim Morrison, he still has an impeccable stage presence. On many occasions he paused between songs to take several swings at what I believe to be a bottle of tequila. However, the strangest part of their performance was when a go-go dancer appeared on stage on various occasions to “pump up” the crowd. Much to my tastes, I found it out of sync with the atmosphere of the performance. Although it is impossible to recreate the same psychedelic vibe of The Doors, you can’t blame them for trying. Their contemporary twist to the classic songs, along with Al Logan’s sultry voice set them apart from other tribute bands.
Following The Lizard Kings were fellow Chicago natives, Los Vicios de Papá. Even though Tijuana No was headlining the night, Los Vicios de Papá were by far my favorite part of the evening. Much like Argentinean ska band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Los Vicios de Papá’s energetic sound is a melting pot that fuses ska, reggae and genres from various parts of Latin America to form their own unique sound. Lead singer Rene Lemus’s voice blends in harmoniously with the upbeat sound of the instrumental ensemble. While playing a variety of songs from their well known work, among the best performances were of “Iluso” and “Esperanza”. The latter song by far stood out as a proclamation of change and hope for not only the Latino communities, but to the city of Chicago as a whole as it continues to be plagued by violence and a lack of unity.
Proceeding, was Los Angeles-based GALLO, a result of a collaboration between brothers Kinski and Rodax Gallo of Monte Negro. They are currently promoting the release of their trilogy: Fuego, Phoenix Rising, and Mamawe. Not knowing much about them, I was unsure of what to expect. When their performance began, I noticed a distinct change in mood in comparison to the other performances of the evening. GALLO’s sound is very reminiscent of The Horrors’ 2011 album, Skying. Their performance was a display of electronic rock with catchy pop hooks. While their sound is not altogether unique and didn’t flow cohesively with the rest of the line-up, their performance of “The Red” from Phoenix Rising was ethereal.
Just a half hour shy of midnight, Tijuana No! emerged onto the stage. The absence of former singer Ceci Bastida was evident. In her replacement was a petite and energetic brunette that began dancing as soon as she was on stage. By time they began their performance the crowd was dwindling. However, the few that remained gave Tijuana No their undivided attention. The group who inevitably feels the weight of the constant rotation of band members as well as the death of Luis Güereña were not able to live up to their legacy of the 90s. However, their charm and political support for many indigenous groups in Latin America was very well intact. Their set consisted of such hits as “Gente”, “Niños de la Calle”, “Borregos Kamikazes” and “Cowboys Asesinos”. A little past midnight, Tijuana No! ended their show with a brief rendition of “Pobre de Ti”.
Overall the evening was an eclectic collection of different musicians that beautifully showcased their own distinct sounds. While, I had been excited to see Tijuana No! in the beginning, it was Los Vicios de Papá that stole the limelight with their fresh sound and uplifting lyrics.