October 17, 2008-Went to the Flamingo Cantina to specifically see Este Vato, an Austin band just forming and plans to debut in 2009. I met Este Vato on myspace when they asked to be my friend. Shortly afterward, they put a song, El Poder, on their player and asked for feedback. I listened to the song and liked the combination cumbia/urban rap song but the tempo was just a little slow for my liking. A week or so past and they put an improved, more upbeat version of El Poder that I liked better. A bulletin followed later personally inviting me to come see them at the Flamingo Cantina. They explained that they hadn't planned on debuting so soon but an opportunity came up and they took it.
That night I met Rocky Reyna, leader and bassist for Este Vato and Exeter, plus a cool guy. He explained the band's visions and goals. Many times the vibe I get from the band members helps determine whether I like the band or support the band by attending their shows and more importantly whether I buy their merchandise or music/CD.
Este Vato opened the show with a short set if five songs. Rocky explained the band's situation and future plans to the audience . The five songs were good. They were a combination of cumbia, urban rap and rock with a heavy bass and drum beat. If you've ever been to a Mexican wedding or tejano dance you'll know what I mean. This beat is what carries your body around the dance floor. This effect was visible on the dance floor this night. The crowd was dancing, swinging and swaying to Este Vato's beat. Overall, the set was good considering the band and songs not being fully developed. I look forward to future shows and music.
The second band was Subrosa Union. A three piece band, originally from El Paso, Texas and now based in Austin, which plays rock/Latin funk/reggae music. This band really caught my attention. Subrosa Union is also a myspace friend and had not had an opportunity to see them up till now. This band rocked the house. Their music had a contagious energy and beat and you couldn't help but let the music take you. My favorite song was 24/7 4:20 Every Day. I bought their four song CD for a small donation and will put it into my music library. If you can catch a Subrosa Union show, I strongly recommend it and you will not be disappointed.
The third band was Bombasta from San Antonio. I first saw Bombasta at the Pachanga Music Festival at Waterloo Park in May during Latin Music Month sponsored by the Austin Latino Music Association. They blew me away with their music and sound. I'm a sucker for a musical group that has a horn section. Bombasta plays a combination of Latin, cumbia and funk music. They remind me of Ozomatli. I became an immediate fan. I met the bassist, JP Leal, a friendly guy, and told him I really liked their sound and asked JP what side of town he was from, since I'm originally for SA too. Now this night, I didn't feel Bombasta like I did for Panchaga. They were OK but didn't bring their A game. I was disappointed. Maybe there were outside factors the band faced before arriving at the Flamingo but I would still go see them again. I hope next time I see them they bring their merch/CD to sell because I wanted to buy.
The last band was Bubba Hernandez and the Super Vatos also from Austin. I had seen Bubba's name in the Austin Chronicle under club listings but didn't pay too much attention. So when I found out that they were also playing, I go excited because I was curious as to what they sounded like. At the club I saw this older guy, about my age, with long hair and derby hat walking around. I thought to myself, " I've seen this guy before at other shows and venues" and to my surprise that was Bubba. The Super Vatos were super. They played with a heavy base and percussion rhythm and beat. They describe their music as "Fiery Bilingual Cumbia-based Pop Rock Songs of Intrigue, Naughtiness, Heartbreak and Other Steamy Delights." Wow! Now I'll tell you who Wow-ed me that night and that was the conga/bongo player, Clemencia Zapata. If you get a chance to see Bubba Hernandez and the Super Vatos, go see them because you'll have a good time and feel like you're at a party. I did purchase their new CD "Dancing En Fuego" and my favorite songs are Hero and My Big Charanga.
This was my first time to the Flamingo Cantina and I found it a small venue but quaint. You can get really close, side view, to the band or further back, front view, depending on preference. I moved back and forth several time to get a different perspective of each band.The sound system was adequate. The club's sound system, for me, enhances or detracts from me appreciating the band and their music. One feature I liked about the Flamingo Cantina was that it had some place to seat. It had carpet covered stair like seating. Most clubs have no seating except maybe at the bar. I parked at the Austin Convention and Visitor's Bureau parking lot which is lighted, covered and is one block south of 6th Street.