A Cinco de Mayo celebration gets saved by Zeros.

Los Ceros 

A Cinco de Mayo celebration gets saved by Zeros.

Strangely enough, Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates Mexico's 1862 victory over the French army at the Battle of Puebla, is celebrated more in the United States than in Mexico. In Kansas City, one celebration is Fiesta in the Heartland, sponsored by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City and scheduled for this weekend at Crown Center.

"Cinco de Mayo has definitely become pretty commercialized," says Cici Rojas, the chamber's president. She likens it to a Mexican version of St. Patrick's Day. "But it's still a great opportunity for the Hispanic people to celebrate and for people who aren't Hispanic to gain knowledge of our culture and traditions."

Traditions that include ... '80s new wave cover bands?

The Zeros typically play in venues such as Mike's Tavern and the Brooksider, but they make their fiesta debut at 7:45 p.m. Saturday. We aren't sure how they scored the gig; all of the other bands have ... well, a Latin influence. That includes Ozomatli (see Dig It on page 57), Grupo Muralla, Karma, Descarga KC and others.

There's more entertainment, too, in the form of Latin cuisine and a pepper contest.

But back to the Zeros.

They're a big hit with the miniskirt-and-muscle-shirt crowd, and at the shows we saw, they were pretty entertaining. At the beginning of each tune, the bar tended to erupt in spasms of "Oh, my god, I love this song!" Beefy guys with spiked hair tried unsuccessfully to look bored during Dexy's Midnight Runners' "Come On, Eileen," but the three-man band eventually won these tough onlookers' respect with Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell." (Might these audience members have fancied themselves rebels, just a little bit?) But the girls' respect -- and their hearts -- were secured from the moment they recognized the Cure's "Just Like Heaven."

As for how the Zeros will fare slotted between a jalapeño-eating contest and the Mañana Band, we can't really say. But we're looking forward to Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio."

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