Have you ever seen those fancy-looking bottles of vodka that are shaped like Tommy guns and sold in gaudy boxes with excessive labeling? They cost more than your average vodka, have catchy names like Roaring 20’s and AK-47 and are distributed world wide.
Francisco Gonzalez is like one of those vodkas: cleverly packaged and pretty on the shelf, but garbage from the first sip.
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His third and latest album, Laberinto, was released last week, with all the hype and promotional tactics that a well-funded record label could put out. Posters littered the streets of Santiago, press releases were disseminated and Bellavista’s Centro Mori was filled with people to witness the unveiling.
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Looking for a new artist to cover, I saw all the media activity and fell for the bait – hook, line and sinker. Being foreign, relatively new to Santiago and having never heard his music before, I plead ignorance. I don’t know what everyone else’s excuse was--maybe a raffle? If only the prize was two hours of your life back.
The four-person band played songs from the new album with strobe lights, smoke, mirrors and the instruments turned way up. (Anything to take the attention off the vocals, I guess.) Despite these efforts, Gonzalez’s dainty, unremarkable voice and uninspiring lyrics like “No te creo más” and “acción, reacción” were painfully unavoidable.
The former drummer of Chilean rock/pop sensation Lucybell, Gonzalez has been going solo for six years now. His “adventurous” role as a front man makes me want to duct tape his mouth shut and buy him a new drum kit.
Concert attendees seemed to feel trapped, like a herd of heavily sedated and recently branded cattle--anxious to escape, yet fearful of the ranchers manning the gates. So they kept their heads down and dreamed of greener pastures while the Francisco Gonzalez mulch spewed from the amplifiers.
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In addition to the histrionic lead and punk - rocker - who’s - never - been - in - a - fight motif, the band fumbled with miscues throughout the night and relied on Gonzalez’s mascara and hair product for its intensity.
It was standard, poor, poppy rock with little creativity, lots of mistakes and a sound that made me want to apologize to the people I brought to the show.
“It’s called Laberinto (labyrinth) because I felt that the composing process was like entering a personal labyrinth,” Gonzalez said in a press release. “It was a period of seven months of high intensity, of searching for days without finding an exit. I worked in solitude, always advancing to find an ending to each song.”
Some mazes shouldn’t be entered.