Festival Nrmal, Part 3: After Party and Casablanca Pool Party

Picture by Souad Martin-Saoudi

by SOUAD MARTIN-SAOUDI

Shame on me. I left the festival grounds around 11: 30 p.m. to take a much-needed siesta after marathon dance sessions in the desert sun fueled by beer excess. (And that’s how I disappeared and missed Maria y José, Javier Estrada, and Daniel Maloso’s sets). A couple of hours later, I was feeling strangely fit as a fiddle. (Or maybe I just wanted to redeem myself.) So I made my way out of the hotel and to the after party. The shuttles were about to leave for the venue, so I packed in with the rowdiest bunch, essentially members of San Pedro El Cortez and Ave Negra. The drive up was punctuated by inevitable shouting and weird conversation about sanctification, while we chugged down a bottle of cheap tequila.

Dusty festivalgoers sitting in small circles at the red light-lit entrance greeted us. Inside, DJ Sliink was making the crowd shine some serious juke and footwork to potent house and trap-fueled hip-hop and r&b remixes. We followed the fluid moves of the anonym bodies until we reached the stage. Then Erick Rincón warmed things up with a set that jarringly married the heavy basslines and layered beats of trap to insane cumbia breaks and synth samples. The sonic transition well secured, Rincón ignited the whole warehouse with heavy digital tribal guarachero.

In the interest of journalism, I told Blanca Méndez during our last Fonocast that I didn’t think a 3Ball MTY-esque party would be my thing, since I usually go out to sleazy dive bars with live music. I was wrong. I presumed Rincón would serve us a collection of catchy instrumentals, but instead Monterrey’s enfant prodige constructed a pervasive, dark, and pulsating body of work ideal for an afterhour’s context. We might have danced until Siete Catorce was on. After this point, it’s all blurry who was mixing. One thing’s for sure: I didn’t drift off into dreams until around 6:30 a.m.

Sunday’s Casablanca Pool Party Showcase in Sierra Sagra was, after the all-star Chilean Showcase on Thursday, the one I anticipated the most. I arrived too late and missed Los Vigilantes (what is wrong with me?!) but caught a glimpse of Algodón Egipcio’s set while getting myself an umpteenth campechana. Cheky’s beautifully crafted sonic soundscapes made the whole pool party in the mountains even more surreal. All that was left to do was to find Enrique Coyotzi (last Fonograma member still in Monterrey) and abandon ourselves to his very à propos subtropical and lighthearted yet nostalgic tunes. Jamaican Queens and Splash, both hailing from the United States, followed. It seemed like pretty decent sets from what I heard while in the bathroom line. Kitty Pryde went on at 7:30. Not surprisingly, the teenage rapper made a point to diss the audience, complaining about the lack of people bouncing to her rhymes. She finished her disconcerting set ensuring us that the recording sounded better than her live voice.

Las Ardillas were the last act on the bill. Thank you Satan! They made us forget about the previous display of gratuitous flippancy and moodiness, overturning any preexisting conceptions about troublemaking music. The hyperactive Boricua garage act opened with the anthem “Cancion de La luz”. Gianky’s distinctive howl and tiptoes dance made the crowd trade stylish shoulder moves for some head banging under the aegis of desultory cigarette burns and scattered beers. As their set went on, the raw vox and devilish guitar riffs became even more snarling and thrashing. The pool party may have reached its pinnacle with everyone belting out the chorus of their last track, “algun dia vivir sin problemas, algun dia podre ser feliz,” until voice extinction.

But for Enrique and I, the final adventure in Monterrey was still yet to come.

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