Last Friday, Manic Hispanic’s milkshake brought all the kids to the yard; that yard better known as The Observatory in Santa Ana. Performing for the first time in Orange County this year, Manic played with supporting bands Robber, Riverboat Gamblers, and Swinging Utters.
As the doors opened and the crowd descended upon the venue, everyone was hyped to see this great assortment of popular bands. When Robber started, everyone cheered as the lead singer hopped on stage wearing tight white jeans, a ski mask, and no shirt. Between songs he encouraged the crowd to buy the band beers later because they “are broke” which made the crowd laugh.
Riverboat Gamblers came all the way from Texas to play this special show. They wowed the crowd with their popular hit “Don’t Bury Me… I’m Still Not Dead Yet.” Front-man Mike Wiebe worked the stage so hard; he jumped and moved like an animal, keeping the mob’s attention. At one point, a kid came up and sang a verse without skipping a word; it was very impressive.
Swinging Utters hit the stage and the old school fans went crazy. Swinging Utters has been around since ’87, so most of the crowd grew up either listening to them or hearing their name, but to see them perform was pretty exciting. The Utters performed their hit song “Five Lessons Learned,” which got a rise out of the mosh pit as fans ran in that dancing circle like their lives depended on it!
Between bands, fans had their chance to take a break, but no one seemed to move in fear they might lose their claimed standing spot. When loud Spanish rap music started to play through the venue, we knew it was finally show time. The band stepped on stage, greeted the anxious crowd, and then jumped right into the first track off the album “Back in Brown,” “Mas Chingones.” They went straight into “Wasted” then “East L.A.,” both of which are off their newest release, “The Menudo Incident.” The album is originally from 1995, but was just rereleased on Smelvis Records.
The band is best known for their Mexican gangster character antics and even plays it up onstage between songs. They never break character and enjoy their Chicano-parodies so much, and at this show, they threw piñatas into the crowd. Between songs, the fans were greeted with a different papier-mâché creation. The first specimen was a naked male with a huge “member” that was immediately ripped off by the fans like a shoal of piranhas once it was thrown into the crowd. Between other songs, we were surprised with what front-man Efrem Schulz called the “Modelo Trophy of Achievement” and a few other pinatas that looked like bottles of alcohol (I think there was theme…). Although, these piñatas were empty, seeing the effort the band made with these filled our hearts.
Manic Hispanic played a good number of songs, then quickly said their “good nights” and left the stage and their equipment. This could only mean one thing: an encore!
The band returned to the stage and the crowd gave a collective cheer that was even bigger than the one we first greeted them with. Manic dove into a few old and loved songs and even played a few new songs. We spoke with Manic after the show and were told the new songs they played tonight are recorded for the new album, but they are still working on it. Our heart exploded with excitement!
“A Message to you, Chunty” to the tune of “A Message to you, Rudy” by The Specials was the first of these new songs they played and it was awesome! Zach Atecas from Los Kung Fu Monkey’s appeared during the show for songs that required a trumpet, but also for the beautiful key notes in this song.
After their rendition of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” swapped to “Mexican Girl,” the band started in on another new song that sounded eerily similar to Rancid’s “Time Bomb,” but with the chorus altered to “The boys a ‘Paisa,’” and the crowd cheered and raised a fist or what was left of their drinks.
Seeing what great performers this band is makes you happy they kept the Manic dream going after two of their original members passed away. Gabby and Soto would be so proud of these guys because it’s obvious every member of this band was born to perform. They each bring a spice to the band that makes this albondigas special.
Manic Hispanic is Louie “Juan Solo” Perez III on vocals, Efrem “Chuey Luis” Schulz on vocals, Gilbert “Dreamer” Pichardo on vocals, Elvis Cortez on lead guitar, Maurice “Mo Grease” Torres on rhythm guitar, Warren “Oso” Renfrow on bass, and Ruben “Chino” Rivera on drums.