Cult rock and roll songwriter Jaime Lopez played a solo show at Mexico City’s tiny Foro del Tejedor, in La Roma, last night. It was my first exposure to Lopez, who is best known for his song “Chilanga Banda,” a super-slangy, vaguely hip-hopish, carefully constructed word salad of Mexico City patois that was covered by the famous Cafe Tacuba a few years back. (A couple of attempts to translate the lyrics can be found here.) There are many ways for a non-local to get lost in the Mexican capital. It can happen when you’re listening to what should be the simplest of spoken sentences — a testament to five centuries of Mexicans’ gleeful chopping and screwing of the European tongue they got stuck with. If you aren’t lost trying to follow “Chilanga Banda,” you must be a chilango.
Jaime Lopez is about 60 years old. He’s a grizzled character, with a face that looks like it’s survived a few bar fights and a voice like a cheap lawnmower engine. He wore black cowboy boots and a tight black T-shirt, and played a black guitar adorned with a sticker of a cowboy silhouette. I got the sense last night that he can do almost anything. After acknowledging that he was playing on the anniversary of the death of the famous Southern gringo he called “Santo Elvis,” he ran through a seemingly endless repertoire of rock and roll, trova-style folk songs, cumbias, rancheras, sensitive ballads and angry breakup songs, all the time accompanied only by his guitar.
For all I know, it may have indeed been endless. After four straight hours of playing, Lopez took a gulp of wine and asked the crowd if they wanted five hours more. They roared their assent. I couldn’t stick it out. Wish I could have.
Above, Lopez and the late Mexican actor Eulalio Gonzalez duet on a beautiful Lopez-penned number about the power of boredom and the limits of wanderlust.