During the past year, Los Macuanos have been garnering quite a bit of buzz: The Tijuana electro band has played in San Francisco and New York City and at South by Southwest, and they've been praised by NPR and MTV for their forward-thinking brand of ruidosón music.
But at El Dorado last Thursday night, the band's San Diego debut didn't exactly go off with a bang. It was the first night of Nootropics, a new series, and Los Macuanos played some of the hippest, most booty-shaking dance music Mexico has to offer. But there were only about two-dozen people at the bar (more than a few of whom were friends from Tijuana), and the dance floor remained almost completely empty during their three-hour DJ set.
Alas, I had to go down south for a proper ruidosón experience. In Tijuana the next night, Los Macuanos played a DJ set with L.A.'s Chico Sonido, Tijuana's Kry-Lon and fellow ruidosón luminary María y José at La Chupiteria, a hip little bar downtown. The place started filling up at around 11 p.m. By the time I left at around 2 a.m., the bar was filled to capacity, everybody was drenched in sweat and the bartenders were bringing in fresh kegs to keep the party going.
Los Macuanos take inspiration from a wealth of resources—New York City no-wave, Detroit techno, rural Mexican music; the list goes on—and I wouldn't be surprised if San Diegans eventually get keen on their borderless sounds. Al ready, the globally minded genre “moombahton” (essentially a mashup of Dutch house and reggaeton) has drawn big crowds at two recent U-31 shows. But if there isn't a big turnout at the next Nootropics, which Los Macuanos hope to put on in October—well, Tijuana is just a trolley ride away.—Peter Holslin