I really enjoyed the Cinco de Mayo celebration at Echoplex on May 5, 2011, and although I got plenty of great Mariachi music, it was also a Calexico show (photos above and below by Kappi), and the chance to see this band in a venue like Echoplex was an experience to treasure. I've only seen them at the El Rey or The Fonda before and as great as those shows were, here I got to get up close and really watch the phenomenal camaraderie this band has with all of their guest musicians. At times there were as many as nine or ten performers on stage. And the sound was tremendous.
I arrived during the opening set by Mariachi Luz de Luna and, together with the balloons and streamers, they immersed you in the spirit of celebration right away. The audience was already bouncing like crazy and the festive atmosphere was intoxicating, as were the drinks.
When Calexico took their places, they filled the stage, not just with musicians and their instruments, but with energy and passion that makes them seem fresh and brand new. Playing a lot of material from their last album, Carried To Dust, they made the album sound a lot better to me. When I went back and listened to it, I think I had underrated it before. And as I've said before, Joey Burns is one of the finest singers I've ever seen.
Augmented by a three piece brass ensemble and a string ensemble and a harp player, the musicianship was simply overwhelming and there was no way to resist. I chatted with other audience members and we were all in agreement, that it was pretty special to see them in this more intimate environment. I just had to write about this show before it got away from me.