KiNG CHANGO with Si*SE at Harbourfront Centre's Norigen Stage, July 28. Tickets: free. Attendance: 1,500. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
it seemed strange that the World Cafe food tent at Harbourfront was so jam-packed while New York's Si*S were on the adjoining Norigen Stage. However, once singer Carol C. started screeching, it became evident that the lineups weren't entirely due to the delicious Venezuelan cuisine. For those who thought no one could possibly be more annoying than Nelly Furtado, Carol C. has stepped up to take the horrid concept of yowling gibberish over generic breakbeats to a torturous new level.
Three or four seconds into King Changó's high-energy blitz, the whole Si*Sé ordeal was forgotten as an ecstatically bouncing contingent took advantage of the removed benches to form a mosh pit stage right. It wasn't just the kiddos -- moms and dads were also whipping themselves into a lather over King Changó's funked-up skalsa fusion.
At the centre of the action was high-stepping frontman Andrew Blanco. Equal parts shirt-lifting Anthony Kiedis and culture-conscious Zack de la Rocha, Blanco did a masterful job of working the crowd, racing back and forth while name-checking South American countries to enthusiastic cheers. He not only made all the right noises about representing Venezuela, Latin roots, Vieques, etc, but also knew how to shake his ass and bleach-blond dreads to make the teenagers scream.
"How many ladies here like Ricky Martin?" Blanco queried as he teasingly tugged at his tank top. At that, a tall man suddenly stood up for a closer look, blocking a middle-aged woman's view of the stage. She squirmed left and right but still couldn't see what the commotion was about. Now in a wild-eyed panic at the thought of missing a glimpse of Blanco's six-pack, she frantically implored her husband to do something, so he shouted down the standing dude. Had Blanco removed his shirt completely, there's no telling what kind of riot might've ensued.
Instead, someone tossed up a Venezuelan flag (Bottled water? Check. Umbrella? Yep. Venezuelan flag? Got it.) and Blanco -- without missing a beat -- fashioned it into a toga and paraded across the stage slapping high fives on outstretched hands.
If King Changó were on any label but Luaka Bop, Blanco might well be an international superstar by now.