La Bikina is one of the best venues on the North St. Mary’s strip, but unless you dig the norteño stuff, chances are you’ve never been there. A shame, except for on this night — where if you stayed home, you were lucky. And I don’t mean the bands were horrible, but the inside of the venue was actually colder than outside (a message to the owner: please fix the damn heater).
As every Wednesday is, this was a rock en español night, and Austin’s Boca Abajo opened with a solid set that confirmed they should stay away from pop and concentrate on their rock ’n’ roll and accordion-based fusion side. LA’s Monte Negro also seemed to be having a good night, but I was turning blue by their fourth song and had to go back home before I turned into a moose.
Maybe it was due to the cold that San Antonio’s own Un Día Más (One More Day), who followed BA, started so sloppily. “La tormenta” was a Dire Straits-meets-Spain’s Radio Futura, but they seemed to have met at the North Pole, with guitarist Jaime Rocha doing his best to solo with semi-frozen hands. “Corazón” isn’t a bad song, but the quintet sounded like a power trio: neither Paul Delgado’s congas (which the band could perfectly live without, as the songs don’t need them) nor Ricky Alcalá’s acoustic guitar could be heard.
By the fourth song, “Nena,” the band had finally warmed up. With bassist/lead singer Ramiro Rocha blowing a harmonica, the folk-rock song exploded into a power ballad where everyone shone. Jaime’s solo was precise and tasteful, and Ramiro’s bass was superb (he ended the song bracing the harmonica with his right hand while playing the bass frets with his left). The name of the last song is a mystery. “Música de la monopolía” (“monopolía” is not a word, “monopolio” is; but I guess they’re trying to say “Music of the Monopoly,” or something like that) was dedicated to “those with the real talent, not those with the feria `money`,” whatever that means. The song is a fast ska number with a great bass line similar to that of “Monkey Man,” but either Ramiro had an off night or he’s simply not a singer. The band would be much better off with a solid bassist (which Ramiro is) concentrating on the bass, while an even more solid singer matches the power Un Día Más is trying to achieve.