(This review originally appeared in the L.A.M.C. 2011 guidebook.)
I love Mexico City. I spent three weeks there in 2010 and when the folks at Vive Latino invited me to visit their music and arts festival in April 2011 I hopped at the chance to return.
Set at Foro Sol stadium, an adjoining fútbol field and park, Vive Latino’s 3-day, 4-stage lineup was daunting and there was a lot of ground to cover, literally and musically. I got up early in the mornings to contact publicists, artists and labels trying to set up interviews. During the day I rushed from stage to stage trying to soak in as much music as possible and chased performers around backstage with my camera and microphone.
I kicked off the first day with the punk/ska of Los De Abajo and Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra then hit The Hong Kong Blood Opera whose bratty dance-punk was a highlight for me, though their use of the word “motherfucker” seemed excessive. I’ve seen Bomba Estéreo a handful of times, but seeing them in a Spanish-speaking country was awesome as everyone knew all the words instead of just chiming in with “fuego” like we do in Seattle. I was really excited for Jane’s Addiction as it would be my first time catching them live. They did some new tracks as well as classics. I struggled with my camera to get a good snap because some girl kept pulling on my backpack. Apparently she needed to make out with me immediately, which was fine until she started biting my face. Once her friend was able to pull her off me I ran to catch Banda de Turistas whose tight musicianship and blend of pop, pysch and garage really won me over. That night Bostich + Fussible were the icing on the cake, turning the mainstage into a massive dance party.
For day two I began with Ruido Rosa, an all-girl hard rock group, whose back-to-basics sound was another favorite discovery for me. I stalked them for 6 hours before I was able to hop in their van for a quick interview. El Guincho seemed a little out of place in the giant outdoor setting, but Pablo Díaz-Reixa and company’s unique tropical dance pop was stellar nonetheless. Also, I dug some pop-rock from Mexico’s La Gusana Ciega and reggae-rock with Argentines Los Pericos. This day belonged to Caifanes, however. Absolutely everyone was talking about the reuniting of the Mexican alternative rock godfathers. When it finally came time for them to hit the stage the stadium was totally packed and full of electricity. I’m usually pretty close to the front during concerts, but after a couple songs I decide to avoid the madness and head to the V.I.P. to get a birds-eye view. The band did not disappoint. They sounded great and had over 70,000 people in the palm of their hand going nuts and singing along. I’ve never seen anything quite like it in my life and will never forget the experience.
For the final day I started out by enjoying the indie rock stylings of Chikita Violenta and the ferocious instrumental surf-rock of Los Coronas and then made another great discovery: La Hora De La Hora. Their fusion of punk, traditional Latin styles and gypsy flavors was unstoppable and had me and everyone freaking the hell out. I love reggae star Fidel Nadal, not only was his performance great, but he was gracious enough to take me backstage afterwards for an interview. Spanish rapper Mala Rodríguez does the sweet, yet gruff thing wonderfully. She was dressed like a sexy librarian version of Xena: Warrior Princess and absolutely ruled the stage. This was also the day I discovered the mezcalería, which was located by an outdoor theater showing music documentaries. I bought as many shots as I could carry and headed back to the mainstage. There’s no drinking corrals here, you can enjoy your alcoholic beverages wherever you damn well want. The National had a nice set (it was cool seeing so many Chilangos singing along to the words) as did Babasónicos who’s CDs are now high on my “to get” list. The capper for the festival was The Chemical Brothers, whose laser/video/light show was the coolest I’ve ever witnessed. They transformed Foro Sol into a giant club chock-full of happy dancers, myself included.
I’m happy to announce that I’m going to Vive Latino 2012 as well! The festival runs March 23-25 at Foro Sol stadium and I’ll be heading to D.F. with El Sonido‘s Associate Producer Carolina. We hope to capture more interviews, stories, photos and videos as well discover new artists to share with our listeners on the show. Once again the line-up is stellar. I look forward to some of my favorite Latin rock bands like Astro, El Columpio Asesino, Atto & The Majestics, Furland, and La Vida Bohème, plus seeing Mexican legends Café Tacvba on the mainstage Saturday night should be mindblowing. On the electronic and funk side of things I’m really stoked to check out one of my favorite modern Colombian groups Systema Solar, plus Mexican Institute of Sound, Toy Selectah, Fatboy Slim, Kinky, Mexican Dubwiser, Monareta, and Ritmo Machine. The recently reformed Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas should definitely prove to be a highlight as well. Also on my to-see list is the folk of Juan Cirerol, Spanish hip-hop group SFDK, and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs bass man Señor Flavio. For some reason I’ve never seen TV on the Radio live so that should be a treat as well. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though, and half of the fun is uncovering new music. I’ll share my stories and discoveries with y’all when I return. Thanks for listening and supporting KEXP.