Fit for Fiesta
Calexico. At SOhO, Thursday, December 7.
Reviewed by Derek Svennungsen
A blending of diverse sounds and genres isn’t always fruitful,
and plenty of bands have tried and failed to pull it off. Yet, for
Calexico, who played at the sold-out SOhO last Thursday night,
disparate elements come together so well that one is forced to
wonder how they could have existed without one another. The
fortunate souls able to get in to the show were treated to
Calexico’s mélange of foot-stompin’ roots rock backed gorgeously by
slide guitar, mariachi horns, and, of all things, a xylophone.
The evening opened with a solid and spirited set of tunes from
The Broken West — certainly a band that could headline a West Coast
tour on its own merit, since it delivered the cool, laid-back
sounds the rest of the world associates with our fair state. But
the energy certainly intensified with the arrival of Calexico, and
longtime fans and newcomers alike were wowed by their verve and
As the band’s members avow, they made a clear attempt to
approach their recorded material in new ways during the live
performance, while also adding some intriguing twists. Delicious
covers from D. Boon’s Minutemen and David Gahan’s Depeche Mode made
you think these guys could merge any sound into their own; they are
phenomenal players. Perhaps loath to overdo their instrumentals,
the guys seemed to reign in their jams just as they were shaking
off their bridles. They often opted too quickly to tighten up and
prepare for the next song, and in so doing, certain tunes ended
somewhat abruptly. These moments, however, were quickly forgiven
and forgotten. After all, for the Calexico fan, cutting a song
short means moving on to the next great vista.
Alternately stirring the crowd into a furor with gypsy rhythms
and mellowing them out with minor chords, the boys from Tucson made
us wonder how in the world Calexico has yet to play the Arlington
during Fiesta. Hope that happens soon.