Calexico, San Fransico Bath House, Wellington, December 2003
Calexico were a band I first came across via a book of short stories about the American-Mexican border by Carlos Fuentes’ called ‘The Crystal Frontier’. Calexico wrote a track with the same name, and inspired by, the book for their 2001 EP Even My Sure Things Fall Through. This was cinematic music, with layered and sparse instrumentation, made to be listened to under a big sky. So when they came to Wellington I dragged a couple of mates (looking back I think we had all been to Mexico at some point) along to SFBH on the basis that this band would be awesome to listen to… something different… proper music like. And we were all pleasantly surprised. Core members Joey Burns and John Convertino are American, but I think when the band were introduced to the rest of the crowd on the night, the other three (percussionistas, hornistas) were all German, but yet there you were, transported to the desert and pueblos of Mexico. Fantastic musicians all round, and if perhaps the crowd were a little subdued, it was only because everybody was listening so closely. (This was great because sometimes a quieter, subtler band, like Low, can suffer at that venue from bar noise, glasses clinking and arsehat students prattling away). Vanishing point roads, dry river beds, distant horizons, lonely trees, small towns, solitary figures with slim prospects. It’s all in there. However, this isn’t just yokel country music, and it never descends into mariachi cheesiness - there is real sonic tricksiness to these guys. Close your eyes and feel the sun on your face. Are they buzzards circling above me? I mucho recommend Calexico. Check out Fuentes’ books too. Read the book while you listen to the music! Both are human storytelling at their best. Gracias. Listen to ‘Crystal Frontier - Widescreen Version’.