Jaguares @ The Orange Pavillion, San Bernardino CA 11/02/01
This was without a doubt one of the roughest crowds I’ve ever experienced, akin to a rough metal crowd…or worse. The Orange Pavillion bordered on “dive” status, the area anyway. It was decent sized, with a capacity of 5000, but the turn out must have been half that or less. Security was tight, complete with a pat down, and I believe we even had to surrender our original ticket+stub for some odd reason. The crowd was quite inebriated, so consideration and etiquette quickly went out the door so to speak. I witnessed a few guys vomit in the crowd (or come close to vomiting/falling over). Several people attempted to push their way up front, wedging themselves in tiny gaps between audience members. They were pushed back with even greater force, leading to a pushing battle near the stage. So there were several hazards in the crowd, leading to a very uncomfortable experience and it detracted from the show.
The show itself was great only in the sense that I got to see Jaguares in the flesh. They were what was left of the once mighty Caifanes, a legendary group in its own right. However this incarnation was just a mere shadow of Caifanes, without the magic and sparkle that made the original group so vibrant. Jaguares’ sound was darker and more rooted in blues and jazz. Leader and vocalist Saul Hernandez fronted Jaguares along with Caifanes alumnus Alfondo Andre on drums. The rest of the group consist of a revolving door of guest musicians. This tour included Chucho Merchan on bass, Leo Corona on percussion, and Cesar “El Vampiro” Lopez on guitar. Lopez played guitar on Mana’s Donde Jugaron Los Ninos CD and has since become part of the semi-permanent Jaguares trio. The performance was good, however Saul’s voice was not in good shape. He often strained, and his overall tone was no longer pleasing to the ears. Saul’s voice no longer had the power and sweetness of the Caifanes days, due to a vocal cord condition. However he gets an ‘A’ for effort.
The set was heavy with new material from the mediocre album Cuando La Sangre Galopa, peppered with older tracks from the El Equilibrio and Bajo El Azul De Tu Misterio albums. The band performed well and the arrangements were guitar heavy since there was no keyboard player utilized for this tour. The crowd was clamoring for Caifanes songs. 5 Caifanes tracks were featured, each was received with rapturous applause. “Amanece” pumped up the crowd, Saul singing the first verse a capella before the rest of the group crashed in. “Dime Jaguar” was also well received, but things didn’t heat up until “Cuentame Tu Vida” was performed. The song’s character changed a bit without the keyboards, however El Vampiro fleshed out the keyboard parts on guitar, giving the song a bluesier edge, rather than the Cure-esque/new wave sound of the studio original. Another cool performance was “Miercoles De Cineza” which saw drummer Alfonso Andre step up to center stage to sing the first two versus. He did VERY well, successfully imitating Saul’s high pitched singing on the studio original. Andre quickly got back to the drum kit in time for the rockin’ chorus. He did a great job of lead vocal duties and drumming. There were some good performances, however this was still a rough introduction to the group in a live setting, but I’ll take what I can get.
Something remarkable happened during this show. During the encore, as I surveyed the crowd during “La Celula Que Explota,” I found that nearly every face had tears rolling down. The lights illuminated the first few rows clearly. The crowd was in tears…literally in tears. I have never seen anything like that before or since. The song continued and men and women were tearfully singing along. I thought to myself “what the hell is wrong with you people?” I loved the song too, understood the lyrics, but was not experiencing the connection they were experiencing. Maybe it was the alcohol. Ya…that’s what it was…these people are drunk! So the group continued and the climax came, the crowd blissfully singing along to the aching conclusion. Whew that was emotional I guess. But then the band immediately segued into “No Dejes Que,” the bluesy, anthemic guitar intro receiving a roar of approval from the crowd. And then the massive sing along began: “Cuando veooo a traaaaveeeeesss del vassoooo…” and then that’s when it hit me, I began to feel it. You know that sensation when you’re about to weep? I tried to fight it back, squinted my eyes and bit my lip. Then I too joined the singalong “Veeoooo a travessss del tiemmpohhhh…and then I became misty eyed and couldn’t hold back any longer. Now I realized what it was all about. Even though the show might have been a little lackluster, it was this moment during the encore when I finally “got it,” this band means so much to people and I now know why. The ache, the melancholy, the sentiment, it hit me hard and I too wept like a sissy. It wasn’t a great experience, but it was still Jaguares. Maybe the next time will be better. This is the set as i remember it, I’m positive there are errors.
Dime de un Amor que no Ha Sufrido
Cuando la Sangre Galopa
En la Tierra
Cuéntame tu Vida
La Vida No Es Igual
Detrás de los Cerros
Miércoles de Ceniza
¿Viejo el Mundo?
La Célula que Explota
No Dejes Que…