Live Review & Photos: Calexico and the Dodos at the Belly Up, October 25, 2012

Photos by Dirk Hansen

The Belly Up last Thursday was a cozy setting for a night of great indie music, but thanks to one guy, it might’ve been a little too cozy.

San Francisco duo The Dodos kicked off the evening with a unique sound that was equal parts cerebral and boisterous. The drumming was concise yet fluid, lending the songs a rhythmic, almost tribal feeling. The band’s music contained echoes of African music and Bluegrass, a nice nod to the type of genre fusion that defines Calexico. As the Dodos finished their set and the crowd went for refills, I moved closer to the stage and found an open spot next to one of the tallest people I have ever seen.

As Calexico took the stage in typical Tex-Mex glory, the guy next to me started shouting at the top of his lungs, “AYEEE YAEEE YAEEE” — and not in a classy or tasteful way (if that’s possible), but as if he was some redneck driving by a Home Depot on a Sunday. Some of the band members looked his way and sort of awkwardly smiled, but they didn’t miss a beat as they started the show.

And what a show it was. I’ve been listening to Calexico for over a decade, and this was my first chance to see them live. It was a delight seeing the songs and personalities of the band members come to life in front of me. It might be convenient to dismiss Calexico as a band that simply makes mariachi music palatable for indie rock fans, but in reality, they do so much more than that. One can tell from the get-go that each band member has a real love for the music that comes out of all the Latin countries, not just Mexico. The way they blend the sultry, vibrant, and sometimes dark elements of Latin music with indie rock is an extraordinary thing.

Because of this, it was especially painful to be next to a guy who trilled stereotypically at the top of his lungs throughout the show. Luckily, however, the classy and talented musicians — and the music itself — made my neighbor fade off into the distance.

Calexico played a variety of songs old and new, creating a perfect balance between some of their darker tunes and their more uplifting music. A highlight of the evening was their original song “Two Silver Trees” and a cover of Love’s “Alone Again Or.”

Calexico and the Dodos came through big and I also learned a valuable concert-going lesson: if there’s 2-3 foot perimeter around a big ol’ guy who’s just having too good of a time, it’s probably for a reason.

Photos – Calexico at the Belly Up

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