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Wateke ’96 Goes Strong and Then . . . Silencio

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Singer Enrique Bunbury abruptly silenced Heroes del Silencio midway through their show-closing set Saturday night at Blockbuster Pavilion in Devore, bringing an unsatisfying end to the otherwise enjoyable Wateke ’96 pop en espan~ol festival.

Five songs into a killer set, Spain’s No. 1 rock band stopped the music as Bunbury chastised the crowd for throwing small plastic bottles onto the stage.

“I want to remind you that this is a band playing here,” he said. “Have some respect. Either you stop throwing things, or we leave.”

When his words brought only more bottles, the singer raised his voice: “I want you to know that if you are used to throwing things onstage, I am used to leaving.”

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A few seconds later, Bunbury unplugged his guitar and moved to the front of the stage, where he raised his right middle finger toward a fan in the mosh pit before wheeling around and storming off.

He never returned.

It was an unexpected ending for an ambitious eight-hour event that, up to that point, had successfully met its main challenge of keeping a crowd of 6,107 happy with an eclectic lineup that included the hard-core power of Victimas del Dr. Cerebro, La Castan~eda and Heroes del Silencio, the pop rock of La Ley and the edgy softness of Soraya and Shakira.

Shakira’s live act is much more substantial than her ultra-commercial debut album, “Barefoot.” Her stage presence suggests a veteran, not a 19-year-old newcomer. The package was musically predictable but visually powerful enough for her to steal the show until the Heroes’ too brief but otherwise impressive appearance.

Bunbury reminded the crowd that this was a rock show. Taking stabs at his own record label (“I’m glad you know all these old songs, even though the label hasn’t released those here”) and the soft-drink company that was the show’s corporate sponsor (“This sign here is not the most adequate; do they think we still drink that [expletive]?”), he brought a sense of childish rebelliousness to the show.

It’s too bad the hot-blooded Saragossan couldn’t have stuck around a little longer.

Until his departure, Wateke ’96, which moved to the Universal Amphitheatre on Sunday, was surprisingly entertaining and diverse, though it wasn’t the ultimate rock en espan~ol showcase, as the promoters would have you believe. Too many of the genre’s most acclaimed acts were not included.


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