Fabulosos Cadillacs

Normally, an average garage wouldn't hold nine Cadillacs, so it was no surprise that large Argentinian ensemble Fabulosos Cadillacs were bumper to bumper on the stage of the Garage Wednesday. It was no different in the audience, and space to dance was scarce.

The sound system was also taxed. When the Cadillacs leaned on their horns, the speakers begged for mercy. Despite the cramped quarters, the Buenos Aires-based group, whose onstage ranks oscillated between nine and 12, managed to channel its amazing genre splicing into a satisfying raw energy.

The Cadillacs hardly looked like Argentina's biggest rock stars--more like they'd just rolled out of bed--but during songs like "Los Condenaditos," which somehow mashed together slide guitar, Astor Piazzolla, ska, soulful horn charts and percussion, nobody cared.

Gabriel "Vincentico" Fernandez Capello was the focus, leading a rousing sing-along of "La Vida" alongside twitching guitarist Ariel Minimal. Bassist Flavio Cianciarulo was clearest during the intro to "57 Almas"; percussionists Gerardo Rotblat and Fernando Ricciardi were barely seen, but clearly felt.

The band focused on its new "La Marcha del Golazo Solitario" CD, whose title track veered sharply into Thelonious Monk's "Rhythm-a-ning," an apt description of the set. It would have been nice to see the Cadillacs playing in more comfortable conditions, but luckily, their horsepower was on full display.

--Patrick Foster

Jerome Rose

Jerome Rose's recital Sunday evening at the National Gallery was marred by a badly voiced piano (cement in the lower register, tin above) and the notoriously swimmy acoustics of the West Garden Court; and the pianist's overuse of the sustaining pedal added fog to an already crowded sonic atmosphere. Even in simple, lyrical pieces a concatenation of sound overloaded the ear and fragmented the musical moment.

Franz Liszt's Transcendental Etude No. 9 ("Ricordanza") is intensely nostalgic, a deep well of memory that Busoni likened to "a packet of yellowed love letters." It is a mood piece, a bag of faded sachet that wafts gently and disappears. Rose irritated the vocal line with rhythmic feints and jabbed intensifications. The hushed sonorities of Liszt's Transcendental Etude No. 11 ("Harmonies du Soir") were similarly jumbled, and the treacherous difficulties of the unnamed Etude No. 10 require a leonine power and technical command beyond the approximations Rose brought to it.

Schumann's awkwardly written G Minor Sonata No. 2 fared marginally better, in that Rose gave its episodic character a welcome tension, but there was little warmth underneath and the cluttered, pluvial harmonies smeared and often overwhelmed the composition's inner voices and primary colors. Rose began the program with Beethoven's "Waldstein" Sonata No. 21, which this reviewer did not hear.

--Ronald Broun

ZZ Top

Cheap sunglasses, fuzzy guitars, slo-mo footwork and all, ZZ Top had a hard time sustaining the rousing crowd response generated by Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Patriot Center Sunday night.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the "li'l ol' band from Texas" followed Skynyrd's show with all the Southern-fried boogie and blues it could muster. While the trio's new album, "XXX," served as an occasional focal point, the concert was loaded with big hits--"Sharp Dressed Man" and "Legs," among others--and nearly all of them showcased Billy Gibbons's raunchy-toned guitar work.

Since its video-primed heyday in the early '80s, the band has simplified its sound and streamlined its concerts. But Gibbons's ferocious tone hasn't lost any of its power or bite, and the boogie patterns relentlessly churned out by bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard generated waves of rhythmic momentum. Some of the new and lesser-known tunes, however, were basically interchangeable, and the concert's pacing suffered as a result.

Skynyrd's opening set was far more emblematic of Southern rock, fueled in large part by the band's guitarists, Gary Rossington, Rickey Medlocke and Hughie Thomasson. Together and alone, they forged a series of classic Southern rock guitar solos and weaves around singer Johnny Van Zant's husky vocals on both new songs ("Edge of Forever" and "Preacher Man") and such longtime favorites as "Gimme Three Steps," "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Free Bird"--the inevitable and overwrought finale.

While not breaking new ground, the band often managed to revive its old hits with a vigor that recalled its glory days.

--Mike Joyce