The six-piece Mexican fusion band Troker performed on Oct. 6 for the on-going On the Edge showings, presented by the Cultural Event Series at Frostburg State University. Despite describing themselves as a fusion of funk, hip-hop, mariachi, and metal, Troker is a jazz band at heart.
Instrumentally, the band features a trumpet, saxophone, drum set, keyboard, bass, and a turntable, and behind every instrument, each member brings their own influences and stylistic take to the band. The group has undergone several changes since its formation in 2004, but one thing hasn’t–the love and appreciation for music felt in each and every song.
On the Edge simulates a laid back, club/lounge atmosphere to keep the audience relaxed and to keep the show informal. This particular event, held in the Manicur Assembly Hall, featured lounge chairs, dim-lighting (except on the stage), a bar, and free Mexican-themed catering. Atmospherically, On the Edge satisfied every aspect I could have expected and spread good vibes all around the hall. Musically, Troker was an entirely different story.
While being introduced, the emcee described Troker as “the soundtrack to a Salvador Dali heist movie.” Salvador Dali was known for his eccentric and grandiose behavior, and Troker captured that energy right from the start. Each member consistently got into such pleasant grooves and crafted hooking melodies. Troker knew exactly how long to keep their grooves going for, as whenever one was about to become too repetitive, the song would instantly change and feel completely different. Within seconds, a song could change from a smooth head-bobber to a frantic head-banger. Troker’s style was best felt in their second song, aptly titled “El Loco.” “El Loco” started softly and just kept building, and building, and building, until it peaked with maximum intensity–and then nothing. The song ended before the intensity could die or start to feel old. Every song felt new and fresh.
Troker did manage to capture one aspect that many bands seem to lack: chemistry. Band members interacted with each other in a friendly manner, cheered each other on, and genuinely looked like they were having a good time performing. No member came off as a Ringo Starr type, either. Each band member had incredible solos and featured parts throughout the entire concert. Not only were the solos special, but occasionally, members would walk off stage and the few members left would have a smaller, more intimate jam session. During a keyboard, bass, and drum trio, the music shifted into some light swing. This was the highlight of the entire concert to me. If Troker had any weaknesses, it was that their intensity was a little much for the club atmosphere. The very faint jazz combined perfectly with the lounge feeling.
Before performing their last song, drummer Frankie Mares spoke to the crowd in a very passionate way: “In politics…you see people talking about a bad Mexico. That news isn’t true. This is what Mexico is about.” His small speech was met with loud applause from the audience, which continued into a standing ovation when the song finished. The band members hung out at their merchandise table afterwards, hosting a sort of meet-and-greet with the audience. Troker seemed truly happy to see how much the crowd enjoyed its performance, which is always nice to see.
While Troker would have been able to carry the show entirely by themselves, CES did an incredible job providing the right environment. It was a truly great experience that defied my expectations by far. Make sure to check out the future On the Edge events, and follow “Troker Official” on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To listen to their music, Troker’s four albums are all available on every major music platform.