Latin Americans rock. Or at least they redefined rock for me last Sunday night at Slim’s in San Francisco. Once called one of the world’s greatest bands by Time magazine, Aterciopelados(you gotta love a band that is called the Velvet-Covered ones)features frontwoman Andrea Echeverri and partner in rhyme, bassist Hector Buitrago, along with their band. Having just released their sixth album, Oye, the concert was part of the promotion. I joined the multiculti, blissfully hipster free(okay so maybe there were a few but who cares?) crowd for a show that made us dance and sing.
The last concert I attended was the light and sound extravaganza of uber-pop diva Mariah Carey. While that show was amazing in its scope(Mimi’s pipes still dazzle), Aterciopelados was a bare-bones, down-home Latino rockero pachanga. The show was opened by Mission District local band, Rupa and the April Fishes, with an eclectic mix of sexy French-language chansons, flamenco, tango, and Indian vocals. After their 40-minute set, the audience waited a mere fifteen minutes before the lights went up on the curtain covered with gigantic foam rubber ears. Andrea and Hector took the stage. Hector was ruggedly handsome in a standard white tee and jeans, all Latin American cheekbones(made me so damn proud of my own indigenous bone structure) while Andrea wore a beautiful embroidered jacket which reminded me of my uncles’ chacarero costumes. They played several cuts from the new album, with Andrea’s comments on deforestation, terrorism, and feminism as segues. Halfway through the show, Andrea stripped down to a white man’s tank and let her long dark hair free. Unlike her paisana Shakira, Andrea is all rocker chick, body like a lanky boy’s, but she is definitely fabulous in her own right, perhaps even more so, in her realness. The band then launched into a reggae-tinged version of “Rompecabezas” prompting the audience sing-along. The energy culminated in a jubilant rendition of positivity anthem, “Luz Azul” with Andrea raising her hands to heaven as the lights went down. “Otra, otra” we chanted for several minutes before the band returned for its encore. We were treated to a slowed-down version of “Florecita Rockera” before Andrea urged us to sing along to everything else. When she thanked us at the show’s end in English and Spanish, it rang true. Aterciopelados is a band that loves their gente, their homeland, and their music. It makes sense they would love their fans.