Although the Cradle wasn't completely sold out, the front of the house was jammed tight with pogo-ing, flagwaving fans by the time I got to Los Amigos Invisibles, about half an hour in to their show. Caught the tail end of this salsa tune on my way in:
A local Venezuelan delegation had brought them a cake that afternoon in honor of the band's twentieth anniversary. All the Amigos were there, except Jose Torres (whom I interviewed for their 2004 Zinga Son record); he had to go home to Spain unexpectedly, so a good pal of DJ Afro's was filling in on bass. Like Los Lobos, another idiosyncratic Latin fusion band, Los Amigos have kept the same close-knit core all these years.
LAI live is like a blender mixing música popular, from the hip to the corny, into a psychedelic milkshake. Before you've fully processed that snippet of an old bolero, they're off to quoting familiar funk hooks, bouncey Europop choruses and organ riffs from sporting events, all swirling in and around their own songs in a non-stop flow.
I got some facetime with DJ Afro after the show, and we talked about vinyl collecting and Venezuelan salsa rarities. He still does a podcast, DJ Afro y su rumba barata, which is broadcast in Caracas, Panama and Mexico City. We agreed that there should be a wiki database for music, similar to the IMDb for movies. Fellow music nerds, any ideas on how to make that happen?
This is my longest clip, a merengue marathon including the song "El Baile del Sobón" from Arepa 3000: