City Limits, Sunday, May 2

Latin-flavored heavy metal ripped its way through City Limits last Sunday night, as Roadrunner Records' Ill Niño performed a loud, 70-minute set to a near-capacity crowd. Starting off their set with "If You Still Hate Me" and "I Am Loco," from 2001's Revolution Revolucion, the band played with mad fury.

Vocalist Cristian Machado displayed pure emotion and passion throughout the night. During such songs as "God Save Us," Machado dug deep into his soul to deliver for the crowd.

A new addition to Ill Niño, former Machine Head guitarist Ahrue Luster, added to the band's diverse sound throughout the night. Songs like "What Comes Around," "This Time's for Real" and "Liar" were highlighted by Luster's acoustic guitar solos. The Latin-style strums combined with percussionist Danny Couto's bongos were truly memorable.

Drummer Dave Chavarri also rose to the occasion. Playing with power and a distinctive style, Chavarri managed to twirl his sticks in-between drum hits, a la Tommy Lee.

While the musical performance of Ill Niño was solid throughout the night, everything else wasn't as tight.

The flow of the set seemed like one long song at times, broken up by programmed intros for the upcoming song. Instead of genuinely interacting with the crowd, Machado would belt out the occasional, "How the fuck are you, Tucson?" and, "Who likes marijuana in Tucson?" The Mary Jane theme extended to the band performing the song "Lifeless ... Life ...," about getting high--another cheap crowd pleaser.

At times, it was hard to watch the band perform because of their light display. Continuous, colored strobe lights flashed throughout the performance, enough that one hoped there were no epileptics present.

With the exception of the drunks and hardcore fans, the crowd seemed lifeless in giving energy back to the band. The audience became most active during "How Can I Live," the hit single from the Freddy vs. Jason soundtrack and Ill Niño's newest, Confession.

But, ultimately, nothing can take away from a solid performance. And Ill Niño was just that--solid.

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