Bang Data at the Elbo Room
January 12, 2009
Review by Eric K. Arnold
Photos by EKAphotography
What more could anyone ask from a Tuesday night in the Mission than discovering both a new favorite taqueria and a new favorite band? First the taqueria: Los Coyotes on 16th (in-between Mission and Valencia) is a welcome change of pace from overly-familiar Mexi-food joints like El Cumbre and Pancho Villa. Two words: mango salsa. That's all you need to know. Well, that, and the fact that their "super taco" isn't just a taco, but a meal. It comes with frijoles con queso, guacamole, sour cream, rice, pico de gallo, and shredded iceberg lettuce, as well as carne asada on two corn tortillas. It's pretty good, especially with a little habanero sauce, but add the mango salsa and it's out of this fuckin' world.
Los Coyotes' super taco not only tasted awesome, but makes an apt metaphor for my new favorite band, Bang Data. Like my taqueria meal, Bang Data serves up a tasty portion of familiar offerings - in this case, rock, rap, and Latin music - and just as Los Coyotes' mango salsa made their super taco something special, Bang Data flipped what could have been a predictable script, and made their set extra-memorable - they were hotter than habanero sauce on a jalapeno-marinated carrot.
Built around a core of frontman Deuce Eclipse - a member of indie hip-hop champs Zion-I's extended family - and drummer Juan Manuel Caipo - formerly of Latin rockzillas Orixa - Bang Data is not just a group, but a collective entity. Flipsyde axeman Dave Lopez and Zion-I beatsmith Amp Live are among the contributors to the Bangdata sound, and last night at the Elbo Room, Eclipse and Caipo were joined by Lopez as well as bassist Marco Guzman and a Nicaraguan trumpet player.
Here's why you gotta love San Francisco crowds in general and the Elbo Room in particular: it's possible for bands with only four previous shows under their belt, who are fine-tuning their sound as they go along, with music no one has ever heard before, to receive the same type of unbridled admiration reserved for established artists with major hits.
Lopez was a monster throughout Bang Data's set, evoking fretboard hysteria seemingly out of "Guitar Hero," but also digging deep into his cultural roots for some electrified mariachi, both with and without fuzztone distortion. Caipo held down the drums all night with a solid but not flashy effort. Meanwhile, Guzman wielded his bass menacingly, as if to scare off any haters with his vibrant low-end frequencies.
Not that he needed to worry. Deuce Eclipse was doing so good, any haterss in the vicinity surely left early. Eclipse's bilingual rapping and his freestyle abilities are well-known throughout Bay Area hip-hop circles, but who knew the man they call "the Oywalk" could sing hooks and verses like a village salsero?
Dressed extra-pachuco in a black blazer and fedora, black Dickies, and black Chucks, with two long braids descending from either side of his head, Eclipse's onstage antics made him eminently watchable. As Lopez laid down riff after riff, the singer/MC flowed effortlessly and energetically, twirling his fingers as cascading lyrics leapt from his larynx. Bang Data's basic concept -- rock en Espanol with a hip-hop twist - manifested beautifully on songs like "Riding Steady," "Nothing to Lose," and "El Pacino" - in which Eclipse lamented the guerrero mentality all too often associated with Latin machismo. The set's highlight, however, may have been "Pressure" - which referenced the same rhythm made famous by Bo Diddley and Iggy Pop, somehow in a way that wasn't tired and rote. "How we gonna make a difference/ if we ain't got the time," Eclipse wondered.
"Is Nicaragua in the house? Is Oakland?", Eclipse asked the crowd - the answer being a resounding 'yes' on both counts. The crowd was so putty in Bang Data's hands at that point, a never-before-played-live song Eclipse dedicated to his dad and voiced while holding a lyric sheet in front of him went over like illegals making the border crossing to El Norte. The vibe was so thick, Bang Data could easily have continued to put the mango salsa-like flavor on the Elbo Room without complaint, but they ran out of songs to play. It was that kind of a Tuesday night.
Personal Bias: Having seen Deuce Eclipse onstage with Zbra Bravo, Keepers of Tym, and Zion-I, it's evident that he's perfectly suited for Bang Data.
Random Detail: For what it's worth, "Ay Ay Ay" got a HUGE crowd response, even though few have heard it before.
By the Way: Bang Data have a six-song EP out called "El Demo."