Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: Escarioka at the Fortune Cookie Lounge, NYC 11/13/08

Maybe it was the election – this has been the best week of the year for concerts. Last night, downstairs from Lucky Cheng’s, popular rock en Espanol group Escarioka turned the room into a sea of swirling bodies. OK, maybe not a sea, but definitely a busy little lake (it’s a small room). Blending elements of ska, reggae, reggaeton and a little Balkan flavor, the seven-piece band had the crowd roaring for a second encore after their too-brief fifty-minute set was over. If rock en Espanol is your thing and you wish you hadn’t missed Maldita at their late 90s peak – around the time of the Mostros album – Escarioka will fit the bill just fine. It’s impossible to imagine a more fun form of crowd control than this band’s tightly constructed, imaginatively arranged songs. Pretty much everything in the set had an element of surprise. Several numbers began slowly, then suddenly went doublespeed, sometimes with the band injecting a break with something totally different, perhaps to keep the dancers on their toes. Their two-piece horn section (trumpet and sax) play as a section rather than taking extended solos; the same applies to their two guitarists, although when one of them finally took an incisive solo that went on for all of a bar and a half, he really made it count. Their frontman has an impressive, rapidfire reggaeton-style delivery and a high-energy style that fits the songs perfectly.

 

One of the early numbers began with an eerie sax intro before going warpspeed in a split second, then halfspeed suddenly again, then bringing it back up and ending on a high note. A couple of songs later in the set went deep down into a roots reggae groove; another started chaotic, almost hardcore, reminding a bit of snarling Argentine punks Todos Tus Muertos. They ended the set with a couple of songs featuring a talented dancehall toaster and encored with yet another fiery, twisting, turning ska number with innumerable tempo changes. Like Maldita, Caifanes and other classic early rock en Espanol groups, most of Escarioka’s songs are in dark minor keys despite the group’s ecstatic dance party vibe. Lyrically, they’re all about the party, with a good sense of humor and a low tolerance for bullshit. Any untightness in their set was obviously due to the fact that the horn players were having a hard time hearing much of anything onstage. This band’s ceiling is extraordinarily high: they’d make a killing playing the circuit from Mexico City on down to Buenos Aires. Catch them now before they’re a household word south of the border. Escarioka’s next show is Saturday Nov 15 at 9 PM at Aji Bar Lounge, 287 9th St., Park Slope, Brooklyn where they’ll be serving $1 tequila shots all night.

 

 

The reggaeton act who played before Escarioka were also a lot of fun. The two crazyheads in the group began by adding deep, boomy live reggae bass and some lead guitar as well before putting down their instruments and getting the night going on a high note.

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November 14, 2008 Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 11/14/08

Counting down the top 666 songs of alltime one day at a time all the way to #1. today’s is #620:

 Erica Smith & the 99 Cent Dreams – See You in the Morning

About as obscure as a song can possibly be. It doesn’t appear that the panstylistic New York rock goddess has ever played the song live, and the only versions extant are unreleased studio outtakes which, predictably, are nowhere to be found online. It’s a terrifyingly sad 6/8 narrative with an early 60s noir pop feel, told from the point of a little girl who’s just lost her mother. Simply one of the most scary, beautiful songs ever written, perhaps explaining why it hasn’t seen general circulation.

November 14, 2008 Posted by | Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music | , | Leave a comment