Sometimes it’s the unexpected surprises that are the most satisfying. Case in point: as i wandered along Sixth Street on a Tuesday afternoon just as the music portion of SXSW was getting underway, I noticed a sign outside of Flamingo Cantina announcing that El Vez would be appearing there later that afternoon. I was aware he was playing the festival, but did not know about this showcase. Figuring now would be as good a time as any to catch his set, I figured why not? It ended up being a good gamble.
I’ve been aware of El Vez (aka The Mexican Elvis aka Robert Lopez) for some time now and friends who’ve seen him have told me he puts on a great show, yet the closest I’ve come to seeing him perform before this show was his appearance in Dave Foley’s The True Meaning Of Christmas Specials alongside such luminaries as Jason Priestley and that other Elvis Stojko (aka the Richmond Hill Elvis). While I did enjoy his take on holiday music in that TV special, what was on offer here today was El Vez’s take on punk rock. And like punk rock, his “punk rock revue” did not always go 100% smoothly. However, while there were a few technical difficulties (a mic issue at the beginning of the set, a costume change that took a little longer than expected), El Vez and band were not fazed at all. With humour and a lot of showmanship, El Vez and his band plowed through a set full of punk classics reworked with his own political and cultural take added in. As he noted a couple of times, these songs could now be considered classic rock, adding that many in attendance were not even born yet when he first got into the punk scene.
And as I said, there were multiple costume changes, the best one being a punk-inspired take on Elvis’ Comeback Special jumpsuit with studs and safety pins included. All in all, a bizarre combination of old school showmanship, tongue in cheek humour, and a punk rock ethos, yet an effective one.