meli is in EnWhyCee! And that makes me very happy. So rtb, violaleeblue, and I searched and searched the internet for good music this weekend. And it seems that this is the one weekend in NYC when no one we like is playing or anyone we do like we can’t afford. What to do? I checked the Highline Ballroom site one more time and saw there was a Colombian band performing on the night she arrived. Maybe something she’d be interested in? Turns out that meli was very interested. She loved the band and had been trying to see them live for a while. So score!
Before dinner we stopped off at very good Himalayan restaurant and then took a cab uptown. Of course neither rtb or I (violaleeblue couldn’t make it) had bothered to remember exactly where the Highline is so we had the cab drive towards Chelsea while rtb looked up the address. At the door there was a woman arguing with the doorman over whether or not her Puerto Rican driver’s license was a fake. The show wasn’t sold out so there was plenty of breathing room in the back and I leaned against the bar and the back wall. Usually when I go to a Latino event everyone is dressed to the nines. meli had described the band as kind of hippie rock and although no one looked like what I would consider hippie rock, most people were dressed down in jeans and sneakers.
Sonido Secreto was the opener and they surprised me by being a hard rock (bordering on metal) band. The songs are mostly in Spanish but they did do one song in English and the lead singer spoke both Spanish and English to the audience (their website also gives you a choice of Spanish or English). They’re based in NYC but I don’t think many of their following were there. Then they surprised me by only playing four songs. The band is Oveck (lead singer/guitar), Pozo (lead guitar and very hot – I was disappointed they left the stage so early because I wanted to see more of him), Gaia (drums), and Sol (bass/vocals). It’s always a treat to see a woman in a hard rock band and seeing one play bass is even better. I can’t say I really liked their music – it was a bit too derivative for me. They were also a strange choice to put on the bill with this headliner.
Reading about Aterciopelados I’m finding out that they’re not just popular in their native Colombia but also throughout Latin America. The music is rock with a folk beat and lots of politics and feminism thrown in. The band is Andrea Echeverri (lead singer/acoustic guitar) and Hector Buitrago (bass/percussion). Also on stage were a male electric guitarist and female percussionist. There was a clothesline across the stage and at various times one of the musicians would pin a flag (which looked like either a dish towel or a baby’s blanket) on the line. I couldn’t make out all the images but there was a red rose, a shamrock, a star, a uterus, ying/yang, and a red circle with the red line over a woman bending over. For one of the songs Echeverri and the percussionist put flowerpot hats on their heads – I heard the word flores in the song so it made sense but then they didn’t take them off – not even when they returned for the encore.
The percussionist had something furry or feathery covering the stands for the cymbals and Buitrago and the electric guitarist started the night performing while sitting on big rubber exercise balls. Echeverri also had a sparkly forehead.
Unfortunately my Spanish is not good enough to understand most of the lyrics or even most of what Echeverri said between songs but there were several shout-outs to the women. Despite that I really enjoyed this band. I had my sweater tied around my waist and I was taking the ends of the bottom of the sweater and moving my arms back and forth as you do in a lot of Latino folk dancing. At one point Echeverri was doing the same with her dress. I could hear some familiar Latino folk melodies and her guitar strumming was traditional Spanish. There also were some funny moments like the song where she says she doesn’t want to be Shakira or Lady Gaga.
The music did so much to lift my mood. It did what you always hope seeing live music will do – it transported me to another place and time. Another plane. One where I was free and could fly.
By Carene Lydia Lopez