Latino-Palooza: Limited acts show diversity in Latino music

By Christina E. Rodriguez

Photo: Abel Arciniega/Tequila Graphics

Nothing says summertime in Chicago like music festivals, particularly the one that closes off the majority of Grant Park for a weekend and doesn’t involve food. Lollapalooza, one of the most notable musical cacophonies, next to Coachella and Bonnaroo, has come and gone but not without leaving a muddy lasting impression.

As Lollapalooza continues to grow in size, (it spans over 115 acres with a Chicago skyline backdrop) tickets sold (the festival sold out all three days this year) and genres of music performed, the weekend has grown to become much more diversified. From big names like Eminem, Coldplay, Muse, My Morning Jacket and Foo Fighters, to smaller bands such as Kids These Days, Young The Giant and Portugal the Man, Latinos had smaller pull though most of it came from stellar performances all over the enormous compound.

Starting off the “Latino” weekend, which only consisted of six bands or musicians, was Ceci Bastida, Tijuana singer known for her work with Julieta Venegas and Tijuana NO. Dressed in black with a side ponytail, as seen in her photos, Bastida’s sound quality definitely shone through on the smaller BMI stage. Latinos yelled and screamed for her, while those who just stopped by for a listen ended up bouncing their heads to her Hip-Hop resemblances. Her voice, very similar to Venegas’, was clear and clean; definitely a good impression for the beginning of the festival, although her showmanship lacked a tad but was a great way to get her music out there before her solo album release of “Veo La Marea.”

In an unfair position, Lollapalooza decided to schedule two of the Chilean superstars at the same time. In an unfortunate situation, yet lucky for those who wanted to catch both Los Bunkers and Ana Tijoux, Tijoux’s set was cut short due to technical sound difficulties with her band. This ended up cutting out a few spots that featured RodStarz from Rebel Diaz. Nonetheless, Perry’s tent was packed from front to back to see the multi-lingual rap artist who captivated her audience with her attitude and sway. In a tent that big and lyrics that fast, she could have been singing in German and no one would have known. Thanks to the thick beats, the fans were enthralled.

Los Bunkers, known for their Beatle-like qualities (after all, the members all have that favorite band in common) played at the Playstation stage after Young The Giant finished their set on the Bud Light stage. Their clean riffs and simplistic energy had people dancing on the asphalt. These guys were definitely representative of the softer side of music. With a badass look and covers of Silvio Rodriguez, there is no girl who wouldn’t swoon over these young studs.

Of the acts that performed on Friday, Le Butcherettes had to be the most stunningly entertaining. On stage, Teri Gender Bender (formerly known as Teresa Suarez) let out her emotions and feelings through her vicious guitar strumming and wild antics as a woman in rebellion would. Her nude-colored dress was covered by an apron doused with red paint and by the middle of her set, mascara and eyeliner left black smudges on her cheeks. The garage band feel that Teri started with, as an adolescent in Guadalajara stayed with her through multiple band members and her move back to the States. Her rebellion and energy attracted the ears of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez who produced their full-length album Sin Sin Sin and played the bass on every track. If you haven’t listened to them, now’s the time. They’ll knock your socks off and give you a run for your money.

Saturday gifted us with only two Latino acts who took the stage during the early afternoon. Ximena Sariñana played to a smaller group at the BMI stage, taking her 45 minute set and voluntarily cutting it short. When her audience chanted that they wanted another song, she took it upon herself to do an “encore.” “I never do this,” she said. Mediocre, one of her more popular Spanish hits that she sang alone with her keyboard, was acknowledged through whistles and shouts by her fans. The Mexican actress-turned-songwriter wore a red poke-a-dot dress and jumped around while playing her keyboard and belting out her English songs.

About an hour after Sariñana performed her encore, Chico Trujillo took the stage. This eight-piece Chilean cumbia band solicited surrounding audiences who stopped to do an interpretive dance at the Playstation stage while walking to either the Bud Light or multiple other stages on the southern end of the compound. Chilean flags waved as people danced to the aggressive bass and drum action. If anything, it was definitely a party and clearly acknowledged the diversity of Latino musicians.

Sunday ended without any Latino artists at all, but the rain did pour, leaving people muddy and soaked for the majority of the afternoon and evening. Mud pits, drunken antics and mudslinging were all included in the Lollapalooza mud Olympics taking place in the fields in front of the main stages, during acts such as Nas and Damien Marley and the Foo Fighters.

But again, no Latino artists. The main reason why Lollapalooza brought out as many Spanish-speaking or bilingual artists as they did was because of Lollapalooza Chile. And even when they gave Chilean acts the spotlight, two were booked at the same time (Los Bunkers and Tijoux).  Years past saw Café Tacuba, the Mexican Institute of Sound, Los Amigos Invisibles and Rage Against the Machine, which probably would have been happy to play the festival again. Why not book those larger acts repeatedly as they do DeadMau5 or Muse? As one of the biggest music festivals in the country in one of the fastest growing Latino cities, you would think that those scheduling the festival would find the numerous Latino artists that plague the musical world and bring them to a Lollapalooza near you. Maybe next year.

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