Music preview:
“A red-hot explosion of Mexican electronica”
By Benjamin Ortiz, Special to the
Chicago Tribune
Section: On the Town
Date: July 10, 2009

A jury-rigged outlaw street party has erupted from the gutters of Baja California to the Pyramid of the Sun, where bass-heavy banda sound systems pump up a kind of Mexicano crunk dancing, as spangled mullets bob to a schizophrenic quebradita.
When the Nortec Collective, Mexican Institute of Sound and Silverio visit the Congress Theatre on Saturday for the Virus Digital Tour, Chicago gets a dose of crossbred trans-border electronica bubbling up from Mexico’s urban hotbed of globo-cultural fusion.
In a phone interview from Tijuana, Nortec’s Pepe Mogt (a.k.a. DJ Fussible) described the group’s turntable mesh of techno, tambora and Norteño, with reference to his favorite dive bar that inspired the track “Mi_Casita,” a slice of his gritty hometown.
“They have a jukebox that only has Norteño music there, and it’s like a Mexican zombie movie,” said Mogt. “It’s scary, and it smells horrible, but sometimes we’ve gone there just to experience that drunken vibe.”
Mogt collaborated with fellow Nortec DJ Bostich (a.k.a. Ramon Amezcua) on the Grammy-nominated “Tijuana Sound Machine” (Nacional), and both turntablists will be at the Congress, along with a tuba, trumpet and accordion combo of musicians-for-hire from back home. “We like to bring Tijuana every place we go, visually too,” Mogt said of the Collective’s graphic designers and pastiche artists who prepare video projections for their shows. “Nortec is the sound of the city, the music you hear on the bus, at the small stores and in the cantinas.”
But it’s also the sound of being too close to the U.S. and too far from central Mexico, with only American TV channels to choose from, Mogt said of growing up in Tijuana. Even so, he credited the Midwest as a major music influence: “When I was a teenager, the first tracks that I heard of techno and house music came from Chicago and Detroit.”
Hailing from Mexico City, Camilo Lara also grew up with hybrid influences mixing in a mega-metropolis of cosmopolitan and countrified tastes. Under the august moniker Mexican Institute of Sound, Lara will play from his latest release, “Soy Sauce” (Nacional), dipping into an urbane mix tape imagination littered with lounge-rap, syntho-quirks, dynamic beats, absurd samples and obscure sonic nibbles, from bolero to chanson.
On the phone from Bogota, Lara said specifically of his track “Cumbia,” that its funky timbre comes from Mexico City’s truly underground music.
“Cumberios play in the same way as the sound systems in Jamaica — two turntables and a microphone,” said Lara. “[It’s] music that you only listen to in the ghetto. … That is why I think there are a lot of artists trying to re-invent it and add ‘value’ to the sounds.”
Lara described the other acts on the Virus Digital bill as great friends and artists. “I am going to invite these guys to do something together [onstage],” he said, setting up a possible blowout finale.
Along with opening electronica acts and DJs spinning in the Congress lobby, the show also features Silverio, from Chilpancingo, Guerrero. Mogt described Silverio’s stage persona as retro “Mexican playboy,” and Lara said his live show is “totally wild.” Local buzz suggests that Silverio will be the stage-stomper of the lineup, as he usually dons a straight-to-video narco-villain ranchero mullet and strips down to blood-red Hanes briefs, to tweak raunchy electro break-beats from the DJ decks.
This lineup plus side-acts should deliver a rave-party atmosphere, but with the sonic zest of a burgeoning Mextronica scene.
Virus Digital Tour with Nortec Collective, Silverio, Mexican Institute of Sound, Saber, Kampion and Willy Joy
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Congress Theatre, 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Price: $17 (all ages); 773-276-1235 or

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