My friends hate me. I don't blame them. SXSW is long over and i'm still bringing up my NRMAL weekend in Monterrey. What can I say? It's been hard letting go of the sweet memories created at the Parque del Ferrocarril, especially when the vibes Austin gave out was a nauseating mix of Doritos cheese and people traffic. I'm only exaggerating, of course. SXSW, like the internet, is what you make of it. And I was out there for most of the festivities (albeit minus one #PincheAndrew) making the most of it and representing Club Fonograma. Here are some of the festival highlights:
EMPRESS OF @ EMPIRE CONTROL ROOM
While last year's South By centered on welcoming long overdue acts, this year it was the rising stars who commanded our attention. First up on the CF itinerary was Lorely Rodríguez aka Empress of. My (H-town) crew and I arrived at the Pretty Much Amazing showcase making a conscience effort to keep cool and dissimulate the fan boy/girl on our faces. As Lorely and her band began to set up, it was clear we weren't alone in those attempts as a small group of smiling spectators filled the front row anxious to catch a glimpse of the Empress. For anyone familiar with her "colorminutes" project, the show itself was a straight up greatest hits set. Even if it took Lorely a few tracks to get into her zone ("Champagne" and latest single "Hat Trick" underwhelmed as a result), her stage presence evolved. Soon her dance moves became totally in sync with the projections that hugged the stage. On the closing track, Lorely chanted: "I-I-I-I've be-e-en waiting for you" but we're all pretty sure it was the other way around.
Leaving the cavernous Empire Control Room, we moved outdoors and into the Old Emo's just in time to catch the end of a Savages set. Now, i'm all for a good punk show, but something about having it right before Delorean felt totally wrong. And being outside in the Texas sun definitely didn't help. WE CAME TO DANCE. QUEREMOS BAILAR. Once Delorean took to the stage it felt like seeing old friends we hadn't heard from in years. Upon hearing them actually play, it hit me just how much I missed their special brand of larger than life house-accented pop. Understandably, their setlist was heavy on new material (luckily for us the new songs sounded fresh). Only a handful of tracks from the still great Subiza made the cut ("Stay Close" and "Real Love") but it was enough to cause me to lose it.
Side note: Midway through their show, Delorean's guitar player broke a string. Luckily our friend Alex Segura stepped up and fixed it on the stage in time for their next song. My hero. <3
After a much-needed break on the Texas Capitol Building lawn, we closed the evening at the Javelina Bar where Pamela Sepúlveda opened the Intolerancia showcase. Recalling how 1/3 of the Club Fonograma staff attended the Nrmal/Chilean showcase in Monterrey (where many of us were traumatized by its congested space and an overdose of cellphone camera usage) it's worth mentioning how this setup was the complete opposite. Fine by me because it felt like I was actually gonna see Fakuta for the first time. Backed up with just one Laura Palmer, Felicia Morales, Pamela treated us with highlights from Al vuelo. Equally pleasant in the show was observing how the two friends exchanged playful looks as if silently acknowledging the crowd differences and reception of Mexico with Austin. Songs like "Las partes" and "Armar y desarmar," however, were able to pull in some curious bar patrons (who says it isn't about the music anymore?). When I finally got to once again hear the sweet "Juntapena," I found myself without a dance partner. Still, knowing I wasn't gonna get a chance to hear it live anytime soon, I at least made an attempt to slow dance with myself.