The Scene: As I headed to 2009 Larimer Street on Friday, I was met by the smell of hot dogs and the noise of the crowd as the Rockies continued their losing streak against the Milwaukee Brewers. In the shadow of Coors Field, and just down the street from the Denver Rescue Mission, lies the Marquis Theatre. Maybe it is good that the Denver Rescue Mission promises in neon that “God Saves,” because promoter Soda Jerk Presents keeps booking a steady stream of the Devil’s Music at the Marquis. Tonight’s bill of MF Ruckus and Metalachi would be no exception. Jesus or Satan, Heaven or Hell, the choice is yours in LoDo.
Opener: MF Ruckus. As the opener loaded in their gear, the sign above the bar reminded me it was half “Pabst” beer thirty. Tall can secured I made my way to the front of the stage to catch MF Ruckus. Singer Aaron Howell took to the mic and started with an apology. Apparently their set time had to be shortened, and the between song banter was going to be minimized so they could get through as many songs in a half hour as they could. With that the band lit off into a hard rocking set that included five songs off their new album Thieves of Thunder. (The artwork for this album was done by local rock poster and mural artist Josh Finley). The energy this group brings every time they play never fails to amaze me. Staying with the Devil’s music theme, my favorite from the night’s set had to be the country tinged cover of All Bets on Death’s song “All My Heroes Are in Hell.”
Metalachi: In the 1970s, the Sunset Strip became a haven for sleaze and prostitution. The Strip continued to be a major focus for music though with Punk Rock and New Wave during the late 1970s, and Glam Metal and Heavy Metal throughout the 1980s. Clubs on the strip like the Whisky a Go Go and the Roxy, hosted groups including Van Halen, Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, and Guns N’ Roses. This place and time, along with a steady diet of taco trucks and Guadalupe Radio 87.7 FM, would give rise to the band Metalachi.
El Cucuy took the stage, the face below his sombrero was painted to resemble a demonic skull. He wore a harness adorned with spikes and when he raised his trumpet to his lips he blew the first few fiery notes of Dio’s “Rainbow in the Dark.” Singer Vega de la Rockha delivered a perfect rendition of the song with both Metal falsetto and the romantic machismo of a movie troubadour. Pancho Rockafeller acted as the heart of the Mariachi band playing the guitarron. With no drummer, he kept rhythm for the whole group on the large acoustic bass. Guitarists Ramon Holiday and Warren Moscow played alternating rhythmic patterns that bounced back and forth melding Mariachi with metal. Providing the busy violin passages for the musical introductions and interludes was violinist Maximillian “Dirty” Sanchez. As the first song came to a close Max held up his metal studded violin in one hand and threw up the El Diablo Satanic sign with the other. The sign represents the goat or ram and was made famous by Ronnie James Dio himself.
The next eleven songs continued in the same fashion as Metalachi played their versions of songs from the likes of Megadeath, Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Quiet Riot, and Metallica. The one that stood out the most for me was when, in a tongue and cheek moment, they combined the Mariachi national anthem “La Negra” with AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” Infusing strong musicianship, with both humor and theatrics, Metalachi gave the audience all they could ask for. I know I was not the only one to leave that night with a new concert t-shirt.
Energy: A +
Stage Presence: A+
Set/Light Show: B-