What We’ll Put Up With In Order To See Our Heroes

Posted on Aug 25, 2009

I recently attended an important event: The kick off party to the 8th Annual SF Salsa Congress featuring the legendary El Gran Combo from Puerto Rico at one of my favorite salsa palaces (and I’m not just saying that because I work there) Cafe Cocomo. The place was stuffed with the “beautiful people”, dancers, djs, musicians and those who just wanted to be seen. The dance troupes were amazing to watch: Ricardo and Michelle’s Pretty Boys and Girls, Salsamania and Rica Salsa moved so smooth that they made it look easy to combine acrobatics, dance to precision and stay on clave to boot! Finally El Gran Combo jumped on stage. Now, I’ve seen El Gran Combo for more than 30 years and they are looking old up there. However…what swing and salsa from these great icons of our music. They don’t move as much as they used to back in the day but they connected with the crowd! However, I started to notice that every song had an unwanted chorus of feedback. Yes, every song had feedback that the sound people could not fix! I spoke to my friend Rhush, Cocomo’s manager who just shook his head and said that the sound people were El Gran Combo’s sound techs who wanted to run the sound their way! The band didn’t have a proper sound check to begin with and the techs didn’t trust Cocomo’s sound folks. So we (the crowd and I) endured a set of El Gran Combo with feedback every 2 minutes!!! Still the crowd danced, drank and partied because the music was soooo good!! I don’t think that people were even aware of the feedback because it was Gran Combo playing up there!!!! A collective numbness from the crowd blocked the crappy sound from our ears….we would not be denied our favorite El Gran Combo tunes. What we’ll put up to see our heroes.