El Chivo Expiatorio, Almalafa, Inspector, Viernes 13 at the Roxy, March 9

Story By Gustavo Arellano | L.A. Weekly
Thursday, Mar 13 2003

Something about ska piques the Mexican soul — but let Carlos Monsiváis ponder that one. Who else but the intellectual giant could explain Sunday’s sold-out Mexican skanker showcase at the Roxy? El Chivo Expiatorio started the slamfest with 1950s hot-rod revs, inappropriate facial histrionics and on-purpose stilted delivery that alternately provoked laughter and pogoing and reminded of Tenacious D. Then again, doubt Jack Black and Co. would ever bash Bush, call for an illegal immigrant amnesty or chirp “Don’t bomb Iraq!” on the catchiest jingle ever uttered outside a soap commercial. Slowing things down — but inciting the pit further — was Almalafa. Sure, the Ensenada dectet’s moody, tropical-laced scratches got repetitive quickly. And, yes, they sang a bit too much about marijuana’s joys. But Almalafa produced — when fans forgo the Roxy’s stage-dive ban, wrap themselves around lead singers and quiver like Pentecostals, a band has produced.

Then some unpleasant capitalism. Seemed many music moguls were in attendance to hear headliner Inspector, so Universal (Inspector’s label) pressured the concert’s promoter to have Southgate skankeros Viernes 13 bumped until after midnight. Viernes vehemently protested, arguing that there’d be no fans left for them. Didn’t matter — label honchos trump the locals any day. Inspector is the same band that had a Thursday-night appearance at Anaheim’s JC Fandango raided after fire inspectors found 500 people too many inside the club, and the prime reason the Roxy nearly encountered that problem also. This fan obsession is puzzling, however; their so-so ska was nothing Orange County didn’t spit out about six years ago.

And Viernes 13? Maybe 75 faithful lingered when lanky singer Jay P. appeared onstage around the witching hour. “I want to thank those who’re staying,” he told the audience. “Those who left — fuck them!” May their furious ska/punk bravura one day receive the respect it deserves.

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