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Cruel Hypnosis

Los Super Elegantes

at Safari Sam’s, August 12

Los Super Elegantes opened their set at Safari Sam’s on Saturday night under what felt like a cloud of candy-coated dread. The singers, Milena Muzquiz and Martiniano Lopez-Crozet, stood at their mics and stared blankly forward, chanting a dead-serious incantation, “Where is the whiskeyyyy? Can I bum a cigareeeeeeette?” Over and over. And over.

The song (called “Fla N Flu”) picked up and veered into some kind of electro sound cathedral, as Muzquiz and Lopez-Crozet loosened their muscles and began dancing, wildly, as if in a surreal rapture. And before you knew it, you were transported. I started feeling bits and pieces of Rome, Ibiza, Athens, Algiers, Milan, Mexico City, Madrid and Malibu throbbing through me. And with the wailing trumpet of accomplished bandmate Mike Bolger, their “mariachi-punk-art-pop” mingled multiple eras all at once, and the sensations of various highly consequential activities: flipping through fashion magazines, ’60s airline travel and high-speed boating. By the time they got to “Death Is Everywhere,” the room was filled with people who, admitting it or not, were longing wistfully for an imagined lover — someone dead, or transatlantic.

This is the cruel hypnosis of Los Super Elegantes’ crass trilingual cabaret. Yes, they’re an art band, one of many projects for the high-end art-market darlings from Tijuana and Buenos Aires. In the often uneven aspects of their performance, it shows — as on Saturday, when they dropped lyrics and sound equipment routinely, hit a couple notes hard and flat, and shrugged it all off without so much as a pardon me. With any other band, this would have been inexcusable. But with Los Super Elegantes, always two or three steps detached from themselves, it’s sorta part of the act, and sorta sexy.

—Daniel Hernandez