“Considera que los miedos son los mismos
Pero cada uno debe escoger
Si quieres yo te acompaño
Para ver que te
Quedes tranquilo hasta que lo entiendas”
-(me llamo) Sebastian
It’s discovering artists that are new to me that’s most exciting about the Latin Alternative Music Conference. I can hardly give up the chance of being in the summer heat of New York City while under the influence of intriguing, exciting and empowering new sounds and surrounded by fellow music junkies. It’s a cause for major celebration, I tell ya! On it’s quinceañera, LAMC continues to develop and maintain Latin alternative culture alive. I’m grateful for that and excited to share my favorite performances at this year’s festivities.
Make sure to follow the artists if you appreciate what they’re doing, y si no pos’ no. Tu te lo pierdes.
Acoustic Showcase at SOBs (Sounds of Brazil)
This mini-concert is one of my favorites because of the quirky array of artists and because it’s a quick, unplugged glimpse at what each musician has to offer. It doesn’t always work, but most of the time I end up surprised or more in love with the person taking on the two-song performance. The event takes place annually at Sounds of Brazil, an intimate venue that allows for a close-up experience. But, what this musical intimacy also means is that those who are not there for the show may end up messing up a good time.
As an example, how utterly rude of those in the audience who would not hush up even when the artist asked for a little silence so she could explain a serious death-involving situation that had just occurred. It affected her choice of song. It was important and personal. To continue talking after that and even when half the audience turned around to “sh!” you. My goodness! It’s so easy to just take it outside. It’s only two songs! C’mon, mi gente. ¡Di no a la chuntarería! Respect.
Regardless of the rudies, Diana Fuentes was able to deliver a breathtaking version of the song “Otra Realidad”. It highlighted tremendous vocal strength, dexterity and passionate writing. If you weren’t moved, it was mostly because… you were talking! Fuentes is currently touring her newest album and sophomore release, Planeta Planetario, produced by Calle 13’s Visitante. “Sera Sol” is the first single off that recording.
Watch a video of Diana Fuentes’s LAMC performance here.
Other artists shining bright were: Caloncho with folky tropical-pop (check out their single “Palmar” below); Esteman(with a band!) and his feel-good pop tunes accompanied by the most enchanting singer we’ve seen on bass; the always magical rap-goddess Ana Tijoux; her runner-up, Cuban powerhouse Danay Suarez, who majestically tapped vox on jazz, funk and soul; Argentine rockers El Mato A Un Policia Motorizado, so unconventionally adorable; and Uruguay’s Santes Les Amis. Overall, we most enjoyed the ladies taking over the microphones. It was empowering all around.
Celebrate Brooklyn Showcase
Heading to Brooklyn is somewhat of a trek and always a bit confusing no matter how many times we’ve been to New York and even to Prospect Park. Once you arrive, though, it’s a beautiful sight. We find ourselves surrounded by gorgeous nature and beautiful people out and about on bikes, skateboards and anything mobile. It’s lush and green. Plus, there’s beer.
We arrived to the sounds of Dj Raff and Bitman (RVSB) who opened up the concert. I love Latino & Proud and was really happy to have finally seen DJ Raff perform it live. Plus, now it reminds me of Broad City and that’s alright by me! The Celebrate Brooklyn showcase also featured Illya Kuryaki & The Valderramas as headliners, and my personal favorite, ChocQuibTown. I know, I know. Everyone was wetting themselves about Illya but for me the Colombian trio was most outstanding. There were no gimmicks, outlandish outfits or unnatural contorting to fuel the fans. It was simply the music and the engaging energy they brought with them that created such a ruckus.
The colors of the Colombian flag were proudly displayed all across the audience, as well as on vocalist Gloria Martinez’s outfit, as ChocQuibTown appeared on stage with a four-piece band backing them. Valencia, lead rapper, pointed to the people in the pit and laughed saying, “At our shows, you don’t need any chairs! You’re going to dance!” Sure enough, the Colombian supporters and new fans alike ditched their seating arrangements to booty-shake along with the band. Although many of them left immediately following the performance, they should have stuck around for the headliner, which we’re sure they would have liked as well.
The band delivered many songs off Oro as well as Somos Pacifico. Their funky, hip hop, tropical-reggaeton-styled songs are hip enough for young crowds and not too over the top for more mature folks. (For those that were there, did you see the awesome seniors getting the dance started in the front? Yes!)
Near the end of their set, ChocQuibTown, proud of their country and culture announced, “We are proud to be Afro from Colombia. We are proud to be Afro from Latin America!” The Chocó natives finalized the sweat-inducing performance with Latin Grammy winning song, “De Donde Vengo Yo”.
Press Room at Affinia Manhattan
One of the most exciting areas within the LAMC space is where the press and media outlets are stationed because of the frenzy that’s going on, with artists being rushed back and forth between interviews. It’s controlled chaos that’s kind of cool to pass through.
I was able to meet the endearing, entertaining and adorably shy Chilean artist (me llamo) Sebastian(and then later ran into him on our way back from Brooklyn in the hot, hellish depths of the NYC subway). I was also introduced to the breathtakingly beautiful singer, song-writer Nina Rodriguez from Colombia who is being managed by Boom Magazine’s own Kike Posada. By the way, did you know Posada wrote a book about the Latin alternative community? Yes! It’s called El Quijote de la Música and you can download it for free!
I also met The Wookies, mask on (and off!), as well as following up with our friends Los Macuanos who had just performed in Chicago for the after-party at the Babasonicos concert the night before. It’s always great fun to meet up with folks you think you’ll never see again. At least not so quickly.
My favorite part about this, despite getting star struck and all geeky about it (ugh), were two things. One was watching Ana Tijoux being interviewed while Canyon Cody watched over her tiny little girl. It was cuteness overload! When our beloved Catalina did her interview, Tijoux had to hold the baby in order to appease her little cries. We melted in unison.
Second was meeting Chilean producer Andres Nusser, also known as the lead vocalist of the band Astro. He was at the conference to discuss a new project he’s producing for artist Alex Ferreira. Although I didn’t interview him, I was secretly (okay, not so secretly) staring at him from not too far away. I know. Super geek. I can’t help it with this one, though! There’s just something about how he speaks and what he speaks about that makes one swoon with intellectual enthusiasm. And nerves. Oy!
Europa Night Club (Unofficial)
This event was not an official part of LAMC but it was one not to be missed. We debated about buying tickets before we arrived but, thankfully, opted for purchasing them even before we arrived at SOBs for the aforementioned acoustic showcase.
The initial line-up was insane! It included Rebel Diaz, Chicha Libre, Ana Tijoux, Quantic, Concrete Elephant plus Maracuyeah, among a couple others. Intense, right? Well it turns out Quantic did not perform and according to insiders wasn’t supposed to, but… the ticket link said different. There were a few discrepancies like this throughout the event (including LAMC), but it all turned out for the best.
When we arrived at Europa Night Club it was already pretty packed inside. Rebel Diaz were doing their thing on stage so we knew there was time before Tijoux performed. While I went outside for a breather, I noticed people being turned away. It turns out the event was sold out. Phew!
I was also glad I was outside when I was. I saw the one and only, music-inspiring, chingonsísima Carol C. Yes! Of course I did what I do best and totally went awkward as I rushed toward her and yelled out, “Carol C!” I know. Ugh. But, she heard me and looked up! I then quickly yammered out, “Hey, I’m a fan from Chicago. I love what you do!” She said, “Oh, thank you so much! Are you coming in? Yes? Good, I’ll see you inside.” And well, I couldn’t breathe too well after that so it took me awhile to go back in. Swoon!
Back inside Ana Tijoux killed it. Killed. It. It was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in New York. The best of the best. Outstanding.
That is all.
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