Electronica scenesters get a dose from Monterrey, Mexico
Local techno king Holger Honda (aka Hjalmar Hake) joked about the sparse crowd at the Crux: “This is how we party on the electronica scene.”
“Yeah,” Honda’s wife Wendy chimed in with a smile. “Minimalist.”
Minimalism was definitely the catchword for the night as laptop wizard Ángel Sanchez Borges was joined by drummer Carlos Icaza—as Antiguo Autómata Mexicana, one of Sanchez’s several musical projects—on a stage bare of anything but a scaled-down drum kit and a podium holding a laptop computer. The interior walls of the darkened Crux Artist Collective were also fittingly bare of everything but their stark white paint, making for a blank canvas onto which the shadows-in-motion of Sanchez and Icaza were eerily projected as a result of their being underlit by the low-to-the-ground stage lighting.
Saturday night’s all-ages techno show at the Crux, featuring Monterrey, Mexico’s Antiguo Autómata Mexicana and Evil Hippie, started about an hour and a half later than the announced start time due to a few technical glitches that were being worked through in sound check and the fact that almost no audience showed up until after 10 p.m. (and never became more than modest all night long).
Borges is a veteran in Mexico’s techno scene who has toured worldwide, and is notably in tight collaboration with prominent techno artists in Germany. The bumper sticker prominently displayed on the lid of his laptop reading simply “Kraut” reminded one of his German connection. AAM’s latest album, actually, is titled Kraut Slut. If one is tempted to think that Sanchez is dissing the Germans in any way by the use of these terms, think again. Before the show he talked of the mutual love and respect that he and his German compatriots have for one another, as they go back and forth playing gigs in each other’s countries.
Sanchez, rocking and swaying sometimes like a possessed preacher behind his computer pulpit, confidently and creatively led AAM’s way on an almost hour-long trip through a driving, infectious, tribal/industrial, trance-inducing, sonic fantasyland that stopped just short at times of being disturbing.
Sounds like electronic wind blowing on the mouth of an empty bottle and strange industrial hammering, thumping, low funky bass, distorted church organ and weird, high, chirpy metallic noises generated by Sanchez’s laptop filled the room over the course of the night.
Icaza’s drumming complemented Sanchez’s creative soundscape impeccably. Icaza is an amazing drummer in that he played tirelessly and metronomically all night long, without overplaying, and remained rhythmically fresh and appealing.
Sanchez’s new project Evil Hippie took the stage after about an hour. Icaza introduced them: “This is not really a band. Well, you’ll see … “
Evil Hippie features Sanchez on a tiny keyboard and Icaza on vocals. They were joined by their two tour managers on drums and cowbell, and by local “back-up dancer” Steven Valentino, looking somewhat like a young Richard Simmons (as one audience member called out) in a silver spangled tank top, tight green short shorts and knee socks. Honda, perched on a nearby step, also accompanied the group on cowbell. 2 cowbells?
Sounding something like techno-meets-Jesus Christ Superstar, and much louder than AAM, Evil Hippie launched into its “Theme From Evil Hippie.” Valentino pranced and danced around the stage and through the audience as the non-band that is Evil Hippie banged on bells and drums, cheerily and dreamily—almost in parody—singing: “I am a hippie / You are a hippie, too.”
New Crux co-director Ty Gorton joined Evil Hippie on tambourine on the evening’s closer (and only the group’s second song) as the exuberant musical assemblage sang: “Hippies are the hippest people.”