Calexico delivers Southwestern flavour to Vancouverites

Calexico at Rickshaw Theatre, 6/8/18

Calexico @ The RIckshaw Theatre
Calexico @ The RIckshaw Theatre in Vancouver B.C.

I have somehow never stumbled upon Calexico’s music over the years – my secret is out. It has just been one of those bands I never crossed paths with and yet Calexico has a formidable history spanning over 20 years. You can’t listen to everything I guess. But still, it was thrilling to relive that moment when a band you’ve never heard starts their set and you are instantly connected.

Calexico felt familiar to me in a way and what I’ve learned as I study the band more closely is that they are wildly diverse. Calexico seems to thrive on their own brand of musical fusions that blend traditional American folk rock with Mexican roots, Columbian Cumbia’s, Cuban montuno’s, and even a touch of the psychedelic.

After a few songs to warm up the audience and get their sound just right, Calexico shifted gears and put their own spin on Yardbirds cover “For Your Love.” This early cover prepared the audience for what would be a night to remember with anthem like builds and yet enough space for each member of the large cast of performers that were on stage to shine.

Brian Lopez joined Calexico on the West Coast portion of their North American Tour and what a treat it was to have him in Vancouver. Breaking through with his own mix of desert noir and sundrenched psychedelic guitar tones fit perfectly with the band. Lopez was asked to sing on ‘Flores y Tamales’ off Calexico’s latest record The Thread That Keeps Us, bringing yet another texture to this Southwestern indie-rock ensemble.

Calexico @ The RIckshaw Theatre
Photo by Peter Ruttan

Frontman Joey Burns invited local Vancouverite and guitarist Paul Rigby on to the stage. Rigby is credited with working on a variety of musical projects that include Neko Case, Bocephus King, Linda McRae, and of course, Calexico. Rigby introduced lanois-esque soundscapes with lush and moody lines that melded into the bands rhythmic desert vibe.

Burns went back and forth between guitars all night leaving his acoustic at times for an overly-saturated hollow-body that really added a lo-fi quality that was perfect live, and I would love to have heard more of on their latest album.

They played a number of songs off The Thread That Keeps Us, shifting from the mellow to the more upbeat like “Dead in the Water.”

The Rickshaw transformed that night – hot and sweaty thanks to Calexico’s passionate performance and an audience that just couldn’t get enough.

If you are like me and are now somehow trying desperately to find as much Calexico to get your hands on, check out a few great collaborations they have done over the years including one with Iron and Wine and another with Jim James.

Ricardo Khayatte

Ricardo Khayatte