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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Review: Calexico created a sense of Tucson community last night at the Rialto

    Calexico’s show at the Rialto Theatre proved more special than one might realize. The historic venue approaches its 100th birthday in 2020 and is now under new management by The Rialto Theater Foundation. 

    Before the band rocked out, a brief video streamed, telling the story behind the Rialto. Since opening in 1920, the Rialto has changed over the years to become the people’s theater that it is today.

    A sense of community overtook the atmosphere in the Rialto, and with that, the musicians graced the stage.

    The extremely small opener, Gaby Moreno, surprised me. Her guitar was wider than she was and looked enormous in her hands. But the music she produced was huge and incredibly powerful. Moreno sang native Guatemalan folk songs with an unmissable, unmistakably raw, Spanish sound. She performed songs both in English and Spanish, and blew the crowd away with the impressive control she has over her voice. 

    Moreno is quite obviously talented and a wonderful voice to carry the sound of Tucson.

    Moreno continued to play, and Calexico’s members joined her one by one. It was clear that Tucson was the band’s home, as it melded into the stage as it had been there all along. 

    There is a country flair to Calexico’s music communicated by rhythmic acoustic guitars and electric slide guitars. But it also has a very Tex-Mex, mariachi vibe, with beautifully bright trumpets and an accordion. The band instrumentally expands much further than this, though, and seems to some degree experimental, almost taking on an indie-rock sound with precise percussion and colorful accents from vibraphones and keyboards.

    Calexico’s harmonies fill out every song to its fullest potential. There really aren’t proper words to describe this type of music. Listening to it makes you feel as if you’re in the Wild West with a margarita in your hand, surrounded by friends, dancing the night away as a tumbleweed rolls by. Basically a typical night out in Tucson. 

    All the musicians onstage had their own unique persona, which added to Calexico’s wonderful, musical family. Musically, they were very fine-tuned and in-sync with one another. Even with the guests Calexico brought on stage—which included an actual mariachi group, a vocalist, a trumpet player and a harmonica player­—they were able to jive as if they had been playing together for years.  

    Calexico made it clear that it is part of our Tucson community and is very happy to be. Many of its songs mentioned family, Tucson scenery and other aspects that are specifically Tucson.

    The Rialto was filled, I am sure, close to its maximum capacity with people of all ages. From babies to people in wheelchairs, each was just as excited as the next to have Calexico on stage.

    There was a wonderful connection between artist and audience, as band member Joey Burns told stories of his times in Tucson and the love he shares for this city. This passion was translated very clearly in the songs Calexico played. 

    Between its high energy, musical expertise and the sense of family it created, Calexico made this night at The Rialto Theater personal and unforgettable. Definitely be sure to catch the band next time it returns to its home stage.   

    Follow Thea Van Gorp on Twitter.

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