Story By: by Stephen Thompson
A playful, electronics-infused Mexican rock band, CafÃ© Tacvba found itself in an unusual spot on the Stubb’s stage at SXSW on March 13: namely, bookended by Nick Cave and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, both of whom roll around seductively in far seedier corners of rock ‘n’ roll. Singing in Spanish to a largely English-language crowd, singer RubÃ©n AlbarrÃ¡n had to get his points across through giddiness-induced goodwill, not to mention the live-wire showmanship of a rock star with a 20-year pedigree.
Which isn’t to say CafÃ© Tacvba is strictly lighthearted; these guys understand their role as cultural ambassadors, and deftly mix serious politics into songs that just happen to bounce and surge with chant-along, jump-up-and-down urgency. El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco, the Tacvbos’ first album in five years, finds them polishing that mix of heavy and light, of introspection and extroversion, until it shines.
Of course, it never hurts that AlbarrÃ¡n â one of Mexico’s greatest and most beloved frontmen â still addresses crowds with the breathless excitement of a particularly fun-loving motivational speaker, whether he’s renouncing corporatism or reveling in the transportive power of pleasure and dancing. It’s a band with plenty of room for social consciousness, but also, late in this concert, an unapologetically choreographed dance routine worthy of the Backstreet Boys. As AlbarrÃ¡n himself says late in this disarming performance, “Let’s dance! Free yourself!”
* This track is not included in the video presentation.