Tuesday, August 12, 2008

El Rey

On Monday night I piled my suburban self into the car with my suburban friend and headed into the big city for a rock show.

The last show I saw downstairs at The Middle East was The Dismemberment Plan. Last night it was El Vez.

How to describe El Vez…he refers to himself as the “Mexican Elvis” but that leaves too much unsaid.

He’s a showman. A kind of gay-cabaret, show-tune, Elvis-camp, rock-o-Latino showman - prone to flamboyant costumes, visuals and props. He performs in front of a crack band and beside the El-Vettes who play the role of back-up singers and go-go dancers.

It’s a chaotic mash-up of pop-culture with liberal amounts of Elvis and a sprinkle of Latino politics thrown in.

Allmusic.com puts it this way:

El Vez, aka Robert Lopez, has been kicking around the L.A. underground music
scene for nearly twenty years. While his records are excellent documents of the
El Vez phenomenon, the only way to get the full El Vez experience is to see his
live shows.

The best cultural reference points to help describe an El Vez show are the Ike and Tina Turner Review, a Tom Jones Las Vegas gig, the LSD episode of Dragnet, and Elvis Presley's '68 comeback special. Listening to El Vez is akin to hearing the live-band equivalent of sampling. An audience on any given night can be treated to half a dozen costume changes and might hear bits and pieces of at least 200 songs - not all of them Elvis recordings.

And that’s so true. At one point last night I texted myself so I could remember the three songs that made up one particularly audacious number – Elvis’ “In The Ghetto”, The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See” and Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova.”

And it totally worked. The show was a blast.

I’m not sure that I would sit and listen to El Vez records for hours on end, but having seen him a couple years ago during the “Merry Mex-mas” tour and at last night’s “El Vez for Prez” show, I am highly recommending that you check out http://www.elvez.net/evFrameset.html to find out when he’s coming to your town.

Better yet, don’t bother. I’ll save you the click!

8/12/08 Hoboken - Maxwells
8/13/08 New York - Le Poisson Rouge
8/14/08 Philadelphia - Johnny Brenda’s
8/15/08 Washington DC - Black Cat
8/16/08 Atlanta = Variety Playhouse (Elvis Death Day Show)
8/17/08 New Orleans - Parish
8/19/08 Houston - Continental Club
8/20/08 Austin - Continental Club
8/23/08 Los Angeles - Key Club
8/24/08 San Diego - Casbah

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