On a random Friday night in February I end up at a 3rd floor walk up club in Mexico City, called Atlantico with 2 of my cousins. Toy Selectah of Control Machete fame is headlining this musky, vibed out, space deep in the middle of Mexico’s Centro Historico and kids are eagerly awaiting his presence. However, we are there to see my cousin’s friends new DJ project called Astros de Mendoza.
While the thought of checking out a DJ at an all Cumbia night did not truly excite me…what I saw that night was nothing short of brilliant. (Now although I am guilty of engaging in hyperbole from time to time, I can say with unabashed enthusiasm that these guys bring the F*$%@*!^G PARTY!)
Two dudes in Miami Vice-looking outfits take the stage and begin an auditory assault on the now capacity crowd.
Funky basslines emanate from the pioneer mixer and cdj’s sitting on the DJ table and in the hands of one of the members is a güira being stuck with feverous delight.
There are percussion instruments on the other side of the tiny stage which quickly get incorporated to a “Should I Stay or Should I Go” a capella that layers itself over tight cumbia beats, that get the entire space going like I haven’t seen any DJ rock a place in a while.
They have a sort of disdain for whatever mood the previous DJ set, but it’s justified with monster bootleg versions of Chromeo’s “Tenderoni” and “Blurred Lines” that make me jump on my phone and bookmark their soundcloud page.
Within that hour, Astros de Mendoza transform this musky 3rd floor walk up into a den of mashed up pop hits and electro-cumbia beats that leave no booty unshook. Blur’s, “Song 2“, EMF’s “Unbelieveable“, even Capital Cities’s “Safe and Sound” get the cumbia re-work treatment during this live performance.
The electro-cumbia cover band is no new phenomenon.
In the last couple years there have been a couple dozen cumbia bands, the most notable, El Conjunto Nueva Ola, Los Masters Plus, and Tropikal Forever, performing covers of pop hits. But Astros de Mendoza are coming at the whole thing from a fresh DJ perspective that in the end creates something new and novel.
If anything it’s worth giving it a listen to see how trippy Damon Albarn or Joe Strummer might sound if they had ever produced a cumbia track.
– José Galvan