Rock en espanol festival Lo McXimo de la Musica provides a sampling of some of the genre’s most popular bands for a low ticket price — an ideal proposition for neophytes wanting to get a taste of what Latin rock is all about. Fortunately, the tour was wise enough to incorporate El Gran Silencio, one of the movement’s most exhilarating outfits.
The diverse lineup celebrated, for the most part, the virtues of Mexican rock. Besides the colorless tropical fusions of Panama’s Rabanes, the festival’s L.A. stop included the visionary electronica soundscapes of Nortec Collective; the brutal, hip-hop flavored attack of controversial quartet Molotov; the infectious party sounds of El Gran Silencio; and the soulful — if somewhat faded — ska-rock of veteran combo Maldita Vecindad.
Hailing from the city of Monterrey, El Gran Silencio started out as a sloppy-sounding combo with a goofy sense of humor and an obsession for the seemingly disparate sounds of hip-hop, ragamuffin and the accordion-heavy sweetness of Colombian vallenato.
While proudly celebrating its working-class origins, the quintet has matured into a funky dance machine with a unique sound that is both sophisticated and approachable. At the Amphitheater, the sinuous “Cumbia Lunera” and the batucada-flavored “El Retorno de los Chuntaros” sent the capacity crowd into a frenzy with its memorable choruses and crunchy textures. Like any rock en espanol band worth its salt, El Silencio has expanded its instrumental configuration, mimicking traditional Latin big bands with its own brass and percussion sections.
The appearance by Molotov — the show’s other heavyweight — was slightly more problematic. The quartet can conjure up ominous moods of punk-rock nihilism — its furious riffs were particularly effective during the ferocious “Here We Kum.” But the band’s one-dimensional approach and profanity-laced rhymes tend to become a bit repetitive after a while.