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Café Tacvba, Live In Concert: SXSW 2013

A playful, electronics-infused Mexican rock band, Café 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 Rubén Albarrán 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 Café 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 Albarrán — one of Mexico's greatest and most beloved frontmen — 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 Albarrán himself says late in this disarming performance, "Let's dance! Free yourself!"

Set List

  • "El Baile Y El Salon"*
  • "Las Flores"
  • "Ingrata"
  • "Olita De Altamar"
  • "Volver A Comenzar"
  • "Chilanga Banda"
  • "Dejate Caer"
  • "Chica Banda"
  • * This track is not included in the video presentation.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
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