Starbucks Main Stage Series
Mucho Mas Caliente

Date: 14 August 2003 at 9.00pm
: Commodore Ballroom

Reviewer: Ed Farolan








Featured Performers: Ernán López-Nussa Quintet


Festival Vancouver's Mucho mas caliente show at the Commodore Ballroom last August 14th reminded me of the movie "Mambo Kings", with the hot, sizzling music of Cuba. Two groups from Havana performed: The Ernán López Quintetin the first hour, and then Vocal Sampling in the next. For those who have gone to the Commodore, the Night Club ambience with the stage and dance floor made this Festival's show a really interesting and unique show. The audience participated dancing to the music of Cuba.

Ernán López's group is here for the second time. They were 'caliente' last summer, and this summer, they are "mucho mas caliente". What impressed me was an instrument played by one of the musicians: some kind of a maracas instrument that looked like a coconut with the beads outside. It was something different from the normal maracas where the beads are inside.


But the audience, as in rock concerts, danced away, clapping, standing in front of the stage (the dance area), asking for more at the end of the hour. The quintet gave it all, appreciated the audience, and finished with an encore.

Vocal sampling reminded me of the Afro-american groups in the seventies--The Temptations, Jackson Five, etc. Even the name of the group, 'Vocal Sampling', sounds catchy. In fact, I believe they were influenced by these 70s singing groups, but unlike them, this combo composed of 6 or 7 acapella singers (with their minus 1 backup), were simply dressed, all in white, and of course, the difference being their Cuban beat. One thing that annoyed me though and also frightened the audience was the loud blasts of sound before they started singing. Whether this was done on purpose or not, I don't know. But I didn't like it, and some audience members, particularly those standing in front of the stage, didn't either, and felt bothered.

But this was a unique show. It gave a nightclubish atmosphere to Festival Vancouver's concerts because of the Commodore's physical setup, unlike other concerts where audiences normally remain passive.

2003, Ed Farolan