Friday, January 15, 2010
TIJUANA MAKE S ME HAPPY
OVER LOOK THE BAD, TO SEE THERE IS GOOD
Packed two- and three-deep on the outdoor stage near the Avenue of Heroes, several members of the Baja California Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Ivan del Prado, conjured lush melodies more suited to a concert hall than a gritty urban thoroughfare. Overhead, a jumbo screen flashed Pop Art graphics ("BANG!") and images of border fences, billiard halls, scowling tough guys in cowboy hats and other Tijuana emblems.
Standing directly behind the violinists and woodwind players, Ramon Amezcua and Pepe Mogt -- better known as Bostich and Fussible of the electronic music ensemble Nortec Collective -- tapped out metronomic tempos on hand-held computers, alternately merging and body-slamming their beats with the rich orchestral harmonies. Punctuating the complex rhythmic pulse, an accordionist, trumpeter and tuba player pumped out shotgun blasts of banda and norteño chords, while the moshing multitudes below snapped cellphone pics and roared their approval.
The free, open-air concert was a welcome diversion for this sprawling border city of 1.5 million, which has suffered a months-long spate of brutal drug-related killings and kidnappings that has demoralized locals and terrified U.S. tourists, who've been staying away in droves.
"It was more than anything a celebration, because Tijuana has received a lot of bad notices from violence and other things, and the people were very anxious," Amezcua said in an interview last week.
But for the Grammy-nominated duo of Amezcua, 48, and Mogt, 40, the concert also marked the latest creative shift in a subtly evolving career. After more than a decade of remapping techno's DNA by splicing electronic beats with Mexican regional folk music, while also producing and recording their own records, touring with Los Lobos and remixing songs for the likes of Morrissey and Lenny Kravitz, the tandem has added yet another chromosome to its sonic gene pool: symphonic musicians and orchestral arrangements.