Monday, April 28, 2008


Summertime is concert time, which means that little local musicians like me get a chance to see what the big boys have to offer when they come to town. Kate and I saw Juanes at the Magness Arena last Friday, the latest stop on his "La Vida" tour. I don't know many Juanes songs, and I haven't even been a fan for that long, but it seemed like a great concert to start out the summer with, and we weren't disappointed.

As we all know, arena concerts are tough. The bad acoustics are generally handled by turning up the volume so loud you couldn't hope to hear an echo if you're anywhere near the stage. Kate and I were ten rows back, in front of a massive array of speakers, and we really got our heads blown off. The bass rattled my rib cage (the drummer sure loved his kick pedal) and the vocals were explosive, but the screaming fan behind us somehow took the cake as far as overbearing noise goes. Two pairs of emergency toilet-paper ear plugs and some minor hearing damage later, we got used to the volume and were able to enjoy the show. I guess we just didn't know that we were getting into full-blown Latin pop star territory, otherwise we would've been prepared with proper earplugs.

If you've been to a Mestizo gig, you've probably heard our cover version of "A Dios Le Pido" featuring the mangled-Spanish stylings of yours truly. Since it took awhile to get accustomed to the volume level, it was a tad unfortunate that the band started with this song. I was, however, grateful for one song that I knew the lyrics to, as my Spanish comprehension is at the sub-toddler level and Juan's ample between-song banter was entirely in Spanish. The Spanish-ignorant among us did get thrown a couple bones--a "thank you very much" and one bit about how he plays his guitar in English so we can understand him. One part of the show needed no translation--a slideshow of land-mine victims played on the sides of the stage during a slow ballad. It was cool to see a world-class performer who is so passionate about people and about music, which was the only thing that made the all-Spanish presentation a tad disappointing (other than my own lack of comprehension).

The music was really great--rockin' guitar licks, hip salsa beats, and lengthy vocals that just plain make me jealous. Let me tell you, this Columbian is real rockstar. There was a stage extension in the middle of the arena for Juan to strut on, and more than one female fan braved her way on stage to get up close and personal (one even wrestled her way out of a security guard's grip). I'm also the type that loves to watch a hand percussionist with an extensive setup, and this guy was busting out some complex rhythms. Expect some new Mestizo knock-offs in the near future if I'm ambitious enough to attempt any more of these impressive songs.

Next up: Pink Martini


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