Cadillacs, Tacuba Draw Power From Latin Roots

The most interesting feature of the best rock en espan~ol is the way Latin rockers draw upon so many sources of musical inspiration.

Argentina’s Los Fabulosos Cadillacs and Mexico’s Cafe Tacuba--who shared billing for the first time Friday night at the Universal Amphitheatre--are perhaps the two bands in the field that have most effectively blended Anglo influences with their countless Latin American roots.

Though the result wasn’t as explosive as you’d have liked because apparent time restrictions forced both bands to play somewhat abbreviated sets, there were enough standout moments to keep the enthusiastic crowd on its feet--and the artists’ strong reputations intact.

Cafe Tacuba--which has an unusual lineup of keyboards, stand-up bass and acoustic guitar--had to close the show after a convincing opening set by Los Fabulosos Cadillacs.


Thanks to singer Ruben Albarran’s charisma and the band’s impressive songwriting skills, Cafe Tacuba came up with a solid set. It was an admirable feat, since the nine-piece Argentine combo had its best local show since its debut here in 1989.

Unlike in previous party-oriented concerts in Los Angeles, the Cadillacs opted this time for a more visceral approach, and they were at their best in straight-ahead rockers and a soaring cover of the Clash’s “Guns of Brixton.” The set worked as a reminder of the fact that the Cadillacs--despite having begun as a ska band and turned to everything from Caribbean to Tex-Mex elements over the years--all along were, and still are, a rock band.

Both bands comment on historical and current social and political issues--the Argentines with straightforward anger and the Mexicans with a more humorous but equally devastating attack.