Jose El Rey at Poplife
February 24, 2008
Better Than: Shopping at Flamingo Plaza
Local musician Jose El Rey is the embodiment of the Cuban stereotype. He is flirtatiously misogynistic, unbelievably crass and sports a look straight out of Que Pasa U.S.A.? Saturday night at Poplife, he had the crowd literally eating out of his hands in the form of guava and meat pastelitos.
There isn’t much to say about El Rey’s music. It’s a mix between punk-rock aesthetics, fuzzy electro and kitschy pop sprinkled with a Cuban saying or two. His being Cuban is always at the forefront of his performance, giving shout outs to Ñooo Que Barato! all the while sounding like the drunk Cuban grandfather that says the most inappropriate things like, “Aqui hay ma’ pajaros que en Parrot Jungle,” which loosely translated means “There are more birds (gays) here than in Parrot Jungle.”
He mixes his Cuban-ness performance with ‘80s hair metal acrobatics along with a gaggle of hipster girls dancing around him. His oddest accessory is his “bodyguard” who does little to protect El Rey from the girls clawing to get to his polyester-draped body.
Simply enough his 30-minute performance mimics his persona: he shows you the time of your life only to leave you when you are begging for more. He quickly exited the stage with a cape thrown over his back by his bodyguard in a James Brown fashion. Despite the pleas of the audience for an encore, he didn’t oblige. Oye chica, he is a Cuban man and you don’t tell a Cuban man what to do.
Off-stage when I went to congratulate him on his performance, although he had changed into an ordinary T-shirt and jeans, he quickly flashed a brief and charismatic smile and said, “Thanks!”
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Personal Bias: Pastelitos are my weakness.
Random Detail: El Rey has a self-released, full-length album out called Espirituality.
By The Way: Espirituality is out of print and probably not easy to come by.
-- Jose D. Duran