Considering their place in the rock en español pantheon, it’s mind-blowing that Café Tacvba had not been invited to play NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series before this year. But watching the performance will assuage any of your concerns, since it’s truly something else and proves they’re still in the zone.
Opening number “Olita de Alta Mar” finds frontman Rubén Albarrán letting loose early into the set, hollering in ecstasy as the track marches to its end; afterward, he speaks about the exploitation of water for fracking. It makes the performance both intimate and expansive.
The rest of the setlist is a mixture between selections from their latest album Jei Beibi and the classics. Playing with an expanded lineup, the band arranges the songs to take advantage of their acoustic guitars – of course, they’ve already proven they can thrive in this format, having played one of the most memorable MTV Unplugged performances of all time. Here, listeners will hear the subtleties of Rubén’s voice, which might get lost in a live setting, like on “Diente De León,” which showcases his range and depth. Then when you least expect it, he’s back to his cheery high whine for “Las Flores,” almost as if time had not passed since the release of this single in 1994.
This performance proves the staying power of Cafeta and it’s a treat for fans. Watch it below.