Having looked forward to this event for the entire week prior, I was thoroughly pleased by the impressive performance given by Las Cafeteras during the middle of last week. What I thought would be essentially another Latin pop performance was much more than that. The group experimented with vibrant, modern sounds while maintaining a traditional essence, and the aspect of their performance that was most meaningful to me was the social commentary that was emotionally striking throughout. After experiencing this performance, I couldn’t wait to write this piece and to explain how Las Cafeteras would give us a reason to listen to their music long after the curtains closed.
The style of their music was a perfect blend of modern sounds and a traditional essence. In other words, many of their songs gave a traditional Latin impression in terms of having upbeat tempos, uniform time counts, and classic instrumentation. In addition to these components, the group instilled some of their own personal flares into their songs that gave a revolutionized impression, such as rapping in some verses, filling up the auditorium with the hard and fast strumming of their guitars or ukuleles, or showcasing the baseline beat given by a full drum set. While these aspects of music composition may be more often seen in the rock genre, the group was able to utilize these techniques in their genre to make their music all the more well-rounded, far-reaching, and complete.
Part of what captivated me the most about the performance by Las Cafeteras were the personas of its members. Aside from being musicians, the three main performers were able to show us just how personable they were, expressing their vulnerability during songs about injustice or hard times and their utmost passion during songs about enjoying life and loving your family. When Hector Flores entered the stage, I immediately felt uplifted and attentive; he was the driving force behind the audience’s involvement in their performance. As Denise Carlos bellowed each song, she seemed to sing in a difficult range with ease, allowing us to feel like she could just be a passerby singing down the street. When Daniel French contributed to verses by rapping, he gave an impression that he could be my cousin or brother, writing and singing to address common social issues among our Latin community.
The most important aspect of their performance were the underlying messages in each of their songs. It was emotionally jarring when they talked about the hardships of immigration, the acceptance of diversified communities, and corruption in our nation’s highest influential powers. I believe that their attempt to bring light upon these issue was successful in the sense that everyone left the performance on the same page and forward in the same direction. In the end, what I left the performance with was a drive to achieve purpose in life. Throughout their songs, they continually asked us, “What would you do? Who are you? What are you here for?” and I will continue to support the idea that whatever we choose to pursue in life, it will only be worth doing if we make it meaningful to us.