5 Reasons Why Café Tacvba Is an Enduring Force in Latin Music
Very few bands can play exciting international shows without a new album, but the beloved Café Tacvba can. Fresh off two back-to-back shows at the Hollywood Bowl, the mercurial Mexican group landed in New York on Monday (July 24) at Central Park’s Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage and captivated crowds with a dazzling two-hour show.
Donning black jeans and matching long-sleeved shirt, frontman Rubén Albarrán commanded the stage from the start when he began to belt out “Seguir Siendo,” a rock masterpiece from their 2007 album SINO. The song, which runs through disparate vibes and emotions, with pensive chants and chilling howls, has the ability to hypnotize listeners instantly, in an almost shamanic way.
The summer night show began as clear as day at 8:00 p.m., a civil twilight, with blue skies and lush foliage. “Friends, look at this great afternoon, with the moon, the sky, and the trees in this wonderful place — thank you so much for bringing us here to Mexa York,” the frontman said with a chuckle.
Spanning through their three-decade discography, the band’s musical prowess was on full display throughout the evening. Their ability to seamlessly transition between different genres, from the raw power of rock to the soulful melodies of folk, was nothing short of impressive. Each band member brought their unique talents to the forefront, creating a harmonious blend of instruments that elevated the songs to new heights.
Here are five reasons why Café Tacvba is an enduring force in Latin music.
Their uncanny ability to evoke a range of emotions
Right from the jump, Café Tacvba has shown its ability to take us on a ride of emotions, from euphoric highs to devastating lows, with songs that span a wide range of stylistic configurations, such as rock balladry, folk, and electronica. In a way, the members — also comprised of Emmanuel del Real (keyboards), Joselo Rangel (guitar), and Enrique Rangel (bass) — convey a supreme musicality in the vein of musical greats (a Beatle-like quality, we dare to say), balancing moods with harmonic delivery that sounds equally as impressive in an outdoor setting as it does indoors with perfect acoustics.
Albarrán’s multifaceted voice
The band has written some timeless ballads like “María,” “Esa Noche,” “Quiero Ver” and “Diente de León”, which we had the pleasure of hearing on Monday. And Albarrán’s unparalleled, crystalline voice is capable of piercing your heart and soul. Equally, that same voice can turn harsh and raw, unleashing ominous growls — as evinced in songs like “Bar Tacuba,” “Futuro,” and “Déjate Caer” — that make you wonder if it’s all coming from the same person. Listening to the band’s two-hour set with such an eclectic set, and that voice, is truly an unforgettable experience.
Their charming, occasional silly choreography
The band has pulled out some of the funnest choreography of the Spanish-language rock game. Who else doesn’t shy away from busting some charmingly silly moves like we see on “Déjate Caer”? Then they do the duck walk somewhere in between their set, with the Rangel brothers pulling their heavy instruments near the ground with them, while still playing them. Albarrán does some kind of air split, dances and flirts with the crowd. Every band member is always active and vibrant, giving us visual entertainment with just their moves — which never feel forced, but just a sign of having fun on stage while engaging with the audience.
Their audience engagement
Mexican flags lofted high throughout the scene. Yet there were Colombians, Puerto Ricans, Brazilians, Ecuadorians, Argentinians and more in the house, people of all ages. Most in my immediate surroundings seemed to know most of Café Tacvba’s lyrics, singing along with them. They watched in awe during moments of serene vibes with their captivating ballads and rocked the heck out with them in the raucous numbers. The thousands in attendance were there to be engrossed by the show and it showed.
Their uniqueness and continued relevance
Although Cafeta has been around since the late 80’s, their songs still sound as vibrant as ever: That is their gift. Few bands have been able to evolve and transform, while staying true to themselves, with each album they release. From embracing their folk roots (Café Tacvba, Re) to becoming strange and experimental (SINO, El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco), their sound is unique and singular in concept and execution.