Los Enanitos Verdes at House of Blues, 8/7/2013

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Los Enanitos Verdes, La Sien House of Blues August 7, 2013

Before there was Maná, or Juanes, or any number of Rock en Español bands, there was Los Enanitos Verdes. These soft-spoken but hard-rockin' dudes from way south of the border are legendary for their inspired, melodic and heartfelt rock jams. Many bands have the ability to be loud, but it takes talent and dedication to be smart, interesting and lovable at the same time.

Slow or fast, soft or hard, this crew from Argentina deserves the admirers it has worked for 35 years to obtain, and Wednesday night the crowd in House of Blues' almost sold-out main hall expressed their adoration with loud cheers and vivacious singalongs.

The opening band of the night was none other than the 2013 Houston Press Music Awards "Best Latin Act" winner, La Sien. As I walked into the venue, I was impressed by their mature sound and tight instrumentation. Lead singer Fabricio Ycaza has a kind spirit that translates into his vocals and guitar, flashing a smile at every opportunity and engaging the band's fans throughout the show.

One of their lyrics that stuck with me the most was "abre el corazon, y sin condicion" (open your heart unconditionally). The group ended their set with the song "El Triste," a cover by Mexican crooner José José that sounded absolutely astonishing in a rock format.

"Es un gusto enorme estar aqui en Houston con ustedes" proclaimed Enanitos bassist and lead singer Marciano Cantero. (It is an enormous pleasure to be in Houston). Their new album, Tic Tac, was released in April of this year, and most of the first half of the show included tracks from the new release, beginning with "Mil Caminos," "No Me Dejes Caer" and "Besos Violentos."

Each of these tracks sounded strong and direct, both fresh and familiar, each with its own style. On the album, "Besos" is performed with Mexican pop star Cristian Castro, who Cantero said was in the studio during recording and was added at the last minute.

"Claro que vamos a tocar las viejitas tambien" said guitarist Felipe Staiti to the crowd, or "of course we will play our oldies/hits." Felipe is an outstanding guitarist who fluctuates between sensual strumming of the strings to hardcore thrashing. One of the sound men told me that he absolutely killed in sound check, jamming loud and hard into the empty venue. Luckily for us, we were fortunate to also witness some of that same magic.

The Enanitos sound can be both laid back and rough and tough, shifting moods quickly and with authority. Marciano's voice is smooth, with a hint of the famous Argentine lisp flowing from the mike, fun and serious at the same time. In fact, there were several couples in the crowd, many of whom the music inspired into fierce makeout sessions. I even observed a couple slow-dancing up on the balcony, obviously in love and feeling invigorated by the songs.

The night ended with a trio of their most famous recordings, beginning with a cover of "Tu Carcel" by the Mexican group Los Bukis, a classic song of love and heartbreak written by Marco Antonio Solis. "Lamento Boliviano" followed, which most of the "borracho y loco" fans sang along at the top of their lungs, and the band shifted between rock and reggae in perfect fashion. The last song of the night was "La Muralla Verde," the epitome of what a Rock en Español song should sound like: fun, attractive and simply creative.

They may be called "Enanitos," but they are giants in our hearts.

Personal Bias: Rock en Español, Latin Rock, or whatever you wanna call it, will always have a special place in my heart.

The Crowd: Well-dressed Latinos, lots of couples, and plenty of rock lovers

Overheard In the Crowd: "Me encanta esta cancion! No sabia que era de Los Enanitos!" ("I love this song! I did not know Los Enanitos sang this one!")

Random Notebook Dump: I wish I spoke with an Argentine accent.


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