Written by David Campos (@magicdave1983)
Live at the Fillmore Miami Beach: (Miami, FL – 4/28/2012)
In March of 2000, in the most bizarre of circumstances, a man in Mendoza, Argentina jumped from a 9th floor hotel balcony straight into a pool below. Any person who witnessed this moment surely believed this man killed himself. When reporters rushed to the scene, they found the man swimming around nonchalantly and unharmed. This man just happened to be one of the fathers of Argentine rock, the very much revered Charly Garcia. Being a musical child prodigy, he graduated as a Music Professor at age 12. An artist whose career spans an impressive 40 years, his influence on rock music not only in Argentina, but in all of Latin America is unquestionable. It’s a feat of sheer talent as a living legend to remain as relevant and influential as culture changes decade after decade. I witnessed this truth first hand as the crowd faithfully waited for him at the Fillmore Miami Beach during his 2012 US tour promoting his latest release 60 x60, a massive retrospective of his career spanning three CDs and three DVDs. He has been known to be an interesting and controversial character both musically and personally, and one can only see that in person.
The respectfully sized crowd was already pumped by the time I entered the venue. For the first time in a long while, I actually was not near the front of the venue. I actually sat back near the back doors, which granted, it did give a wide view of the stage, but it was still a little too far than what I’m used to when I’m at the Fillmore Miami Beach. When the lights finally dimmed, the crowd exploded in anticipation of seeing their idol. Still, he did not appear on stage immediately. There was a quite lengthy video intro at first. It was an audio/visual timeline of his entire musical career. The screen would show the artwork of an album with an audio sample of a memorable hit from that album. It started in 1972 and went year by year for about 5 minutes until it reached the present. The slideshow ended up being interactive in a way since during all the random audio samples, everyone sung along unison. No matter what part of the song the sample landed on, everyone knew it. It was actually quite impressive. Suddenly, at long last, the lights came up and the show began with 10 people on stage. I was quite taken by surprise since I had trouble locating Charly was on stage. I first thought he was the guy on the xylophone. After a few minutes, I noticed the piano on the left and the rather still gentlemen sitting at it who promptly began to play. Given the aged, raspy voice and the familiar unison sing-along of the crowd, I knew this was Charly Garcia. As I have become a fan of documenting the performances of artists I see in concert, I began to normally take some video when I was promptly reprimanded by a member of the venue staff that video recording was not allowed. I was staunchly upset at this. While she did the same for those around me, there were hundreds of cameras still recording, especially those who were up front and bunched into a huge crowd. The consequence of my seat was that I was not able to record a single song on video since I was in the staff member’s line of sight the whole night.
For a 60 year old man, he’s still gets around stage pretty enthusiastically. He shuffles his feet in a very cartoony way. His wardrobe was quite out of sync with what one may think a man of his age should wear. Yet, that his exactly the style his famous “I-don’t-give-a-fuck” personality has always portrayed. It consisted of a generic, black t-shirt, a somewhat long, creepy trench coat, sunglasses, and these skin tight red pants that grafted itself to his lanky frame. Add his signature curly hair and half black/half grey mustache, he made me chuckle at the silly thought of him being a cousin to El Loco Hugo, a lunatic character who would flash woman on the famous Venezuelan comedy sketch show Bienvenidos. After jamming for a good hour, Charly’s off-beat personality led him to declare to the crowd that he is going to take a break and have some wine. He left and some experimental-type film appeared on screen with some eyeball being sliced open. Once again, in unison, everyone audibly cringed at what had just been witnessed. After his wine break, he came back to lead the crowd though hit after hit of his long discography. Like the Music Professor that he is, he would sing ballads on his grand piano, or switch to cheap-looking keyboard at center stage, or lead the 10 members of his band, which were named the Prostitution, like an orchestra conductor, or just prance around to the beat of some his classic dance hits.
Being this the first time I ever see him, my personal experience was that the show overall was a like an educational field trip to a music exhibit at a museum, where you come to learn and appreciate the accomplishments of an artist who laid the foundations of influence for so many other across Latin America, some who were probably not even born yet when he was starting out. The only difference is that I wasn’t looking at some wax figure. Charly Garcia is still very much alive and jamming. Like at any museum, I needed to leave with something. With video out of the question, I experimented and recorded some audio with my Blackberry voice recorder. The sound that came out wasn’t the best by any means, but it does have an old, scratchy, bootleg charm to it, which kind of amplifies Charly’s age and historic mythos. The fans embrace that mythos as their own. Just as much his devoted fans sing and adore him, he repays them exactly with the same respect and good times. Despite his apparent kookiness and moments where he seemed like he was not there, he was very attentive and affectionate to everyone who came to see him. My highlight was that I did learn something new in my Spanish language that night. It is essentially the Argentine version of encore. The crowded shouted the following: “Una mas y no jodemos mas!” In English, that translates to the following: “One more and we won’t bother anymore.” When he finished his encore, once last time, in unison, the crowd kept their promise and happily didn’t bother anymore.