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Calle 13 and Kinky Bring Latin Debut to Club Nokia

By Camilo Smith
Published: Monday, November 17, 2008, at 12:18PM
Calle 13 at Club Nokia Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Residente (RenÂŽ PÂŽrez)



Newly-minted Club Nokia welcomed its first Latin show on Saturday, drawing a heavy crowd for the energetic electro-rock of Monterrey, Mexico-bred Kinky and the Puerto Rican alterna-rap and reggaeton of Calle 13.

Club Nokia, part of the L.A. Live complex, opened just over a week ago with two shows by Beck. On Saturday night, both bands had the new 2,300 capacity venue bouncing.

Kinky frontman Gilberto Cerezo, who opened the night, pounced across stage with the verve of a seasoned rocker. Little did the audience know it was his 30th birthday as he took the stage to dozens of screaming female fans. But it wasn't just his cover boy good looks that enraptured the crowd, it was the music. The 5-piece band's hour-long set was a unique mixture of ranchera, cumbia, rock, electronica and hip-hop rhythms. Cerezo combined lyric-driven cuts in English, as on "Mexican Radio," with songs that he sung in Spanish ("Mas", "A donde van los muertos").

With 5 albums worth of material in Kinky's musical repertoire, Cerezo showed off his multi-instrumentalist tendencies, playing the guitar and the trumpet. Bandmate Ulises Lozan, the group's beat programmer and keyboardist, pulled out his accordion at various points, bringing the sounds of regional Mexican music into the club.

Breakdancers helped hold the crowd over in between performances, but it was easy to tell that the most anticipation was being held for headliners Calle 13.

The Latin Grammy winning collective -- there were 10 members onstage, including younger sister PG-13 singing backup -- is headed by siblings Residente, who raps, and Visitante, another multi-instrumentalist whose music includes elements as varied as Kinky's. Residente's raunchy rhymes had the crowd dancing onstage and off. Certain ladies from the audience were pulled up to dance early in the set.

With so much bounce in the music, the crowd's dancing made the club floor feel as though it had springs underneath. Residente never let up, plowing through numbers that touched on the band's newest album, as well as other critically acclaimed hits such as "Fiesta de Locos", "La Jirafa", and the sublime "No hay nadie como tu." As a finale, leaving the stage and then coming back, they finished up with "Suave" and "Tango del Pecado".

An impassioned performance that had all the hard-edged urban bravado fitting for an L.A. audience, Calle 13's show could only be criticized for it's brevity. Though they returned for a short encore, the night still seemed young when the band was finally finished.

It may be here that Club Nokia breaks from Los Angeles' typical club music scene, where lead acts often come on around the midnight hour (Calle 13 hit the stage around 10:45). Quick changeovers and an adherence to schedule gave a reminder that operations at Club Nokia share more with AEG's other venues than with the Sunset scene.

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L.A. Live

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