Little Green Men

There must be some "Spinal Tap"-like confusion going on with Enanitos Verdes' current tour of the U.S.. Their original drummer, Daniel Piccolo, isn't playing with the band and the dates and locations of their shows on their website are wrong. Needless to say, I was  surprised to see they were scheduled to play gigs in Colorado and California on the same night (according to Ticketmaster), even if the California show wasn't scheduled to start until 11:00 pm.

In between, a show suddenly popped up in Salt Lake City, of all places, which seemed really random to me. Then the Colorado show was cancelled [ I was told today the cancellation may have been due to a blizzard that would have prevented the band from making it to Colorado], the Salt Lake gig went on (which was great, according to Mademoiselle MG), and the next night, after confirming the show was actually happening, I rode my motorcycle toward a San Jose club I'd never heard of to catch the band. In my mind I had this image of a sparse crowd at a show that seemed put on at the last minute, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the parking lot full and a large crowd lined up to get inside.

The club, The Bay Area Palladium (in Sunnyvale), is a massive old-school style Latin disco and seems a world away from the storied Fillmore in San Francisco (where I last saw EV deliver a blistering set to a full house last November). This worked out rather well though, because the it felt like "old home" night. Before the band took the stage, the dj was playing a curious mix of tunes that included the Doors, Huey Lewis and the News, some serious rock en Espanol, disco, reggaeton and somehow he made it all work, keeping the crowd dancing enthusiastically until the band came on. I should also mention that there were free tacos available to everyone and the bouncers/security folks were the nicest I've ever seen. So thumb's up to the Palladium!

Shortly after 11, the band hit the tiny stage (too small to fit keyboards on- Horacio Gomez was working the soundboard instead of playing onstage with the band). Marciano Cantero looked like he had just woken up and Felipe Staiti looked like the long ride from Salt Lake had taken a slight toll on him as well. Nevertheless, they ripped into a well-played set that lasted almost two hours. Given the late hour, an extended acoustic portion fit in well, featuring "El Guerrero" and Del Cairo a Paris" among the half-dozen tunes the band performed this way.

They also played rousing versions of "Tequila,""La Muralla Verde" and of course "Lamento Boliviano." Something that resembled a friendlier version of a mosh pit formed in the middle of the floor, and when "Mil Horas" started one guy sprayed everyone with beer out of sheer exuberance. As usual, the audience sang along with every song, at times as loud as the band.

I've long thought EV was kind of like an Argentinian version of the Police, only with much better songs and without the ridiculous posing and arrogance of Sting, and when the band inserted an extended instrumental passage of "Walking on the Moon" into "Tu Carcel" it only solidified my opinion. They seem incapable of playing a song the same way twice, which gives their shows a jam-like quality, though without the long, extended noodling that often accompanies such concerts. Tempos are slowed down, melodies twist into new phrases, yet retain their basic structure. It's apparent that even after thirty years as a band, Enanitos Verdes still really likes to play. This set featured strong undercurrents of blues and reggae elements worked into many of the songs, giving it a distinct after-hours feel.

The encore featured five songs, starting with "Cordillera" and "Guitarros Blancos" and ending with a blues rocker I didn't know but which sounded familiar to me regardless. It may have been a cover.

There are two shows this weekend in LA (the Wiltern) and Anaheim (House of Blues). Just go- The Little Green Men don't disappoint.