If Federico Fellini were reincarnated as a Latin musician, he probably would sound just like the Fabulosos Cadillacs. The Argentine combo presented at Universal an exhilarating sample of its carnival-esque musical vision, which blends bits of jazz, mainstream rock and even hardcore metal with tango, samba and Afro-Cuban dance.

If Federico Fellini were reincarnated as a Latin musician, he probably would sound just like the Fabulosos Cadillacs. The Argentine combo presented at Universal an exhilarating sample of its carnival-esque musical vision, which blends bits of jazz, mainstream rock and even hardcore metal with heavy doses of tango, samba and Afro-Cuban dance formats.

Anchored on the melodramatic, nostalgic vocals of Gaby Capello (the existentialist tango singer par excellence) and the jazzy bass work of co-leader Flavio Cianciarulo, the group functions almost like a salsa band, with its three-piece brass section spitting out furious riffs on top of the interlocking polyrhythms created by congas, timbales and trap drums.

Perhaps most remarkable about this perf was the Cadillacs’ ability to use its most accessible material (“Matador,” “Mal Bicho,” “Carmela”) to lure the audience, then present them with more challenging fare. The grim “Salvador y los Cordones Flojos” and the circuslike “Los Condenaditos,” for instance, are as experimental as rock en espanol is ever likely to be.

Not surprisingly, the band has severed ties with label BMG Latin after a couple of albums that failed to deliver the kind of bona fide hits the company was hoping for. With no new material to present, Fabulosos Cadillacs relied on its rich musical history, drawing heavily from its latest recording, 1999′s superb “La Marcha del Golazo Solitario.”

Opening acts Ely Guerra and Joselo (guitarist with Mexican quartet Cafe Tacuba) delivered moderately well-received sets that simply failed to match the Cadillacs’ buoyant energy and inspired vision.

Fabulosos Cadillacs

Universal Amphitheater; 6,200 seats; $40 top

Production

Presented by House of Blues Concerts. Reviewed April 4, 2002.

Cast

Band: Gabriel Fernandez Capello, Flavio Cianciarulo, Ariel Minimal, Fernando Ricciardi, Hugo Daniel Lozano, Gerardo Rotblat, Ariel Sanzo, Luis Fernando Albareda, Pablo Puntoriero, Jose Luis Bale, Gustavo Liamgot.
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