As always, festivals serve as a grand showcase to see people. I was surprised by how many hipsters showed up (long gone rockosaurios), and surprised by the low number of anglo latinophiles amongst the crowd. Not that the festival wasn't welcoming to those curious about Latin Alternative music, but it was refreshing to see that the festival wasn't catered towards the NPR/KCRW audience as we all thought. Instead, it seemed to be an integrationist event exercising a populist approach at its very core.
It will come off snobbish and not very progressive, but our party planned to hit the event held on Downtown L.A. late enough to miss any SKA act (Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra), boring cultural tailoring (La Santa Cecilia), or cheesy/comic filling (Los Master Plus). But that wasn't very smart of us, as we didn't realize Ceci Bastida played really early on. Four out of five colleagues I ran into pointed to Ceci's performance as the most pleasing, if not the best of the night -which is the same reaction that's been heard from her performances at SXSW and Vive Latino.
Coming to the fest, it was no secret the act I was most excited about was María y José. After five years of blogging about him, I can say I was not disappointed one bit. Not even by his unapologetic choices, like that of singing Magneto's "Vuela Vuela" at what could be his most industry-important show yet. It was thrilling to see Gallardo own that Illuminati stage, acquiring visibility and movement one track after the other. Whatever transmutations he put into the live version of "Kibose," he needs to re-record that (as many times as necessary) -it's so good I wonder if that's been his magnus opus all along. Yes, we can be as romantic as we want applauding the orchestration/pedigree of instruments, but Macbooks can fill a room with joy as well. Also proven by fellow Tijuanenses and ruidoson makers, Los Macuanos, new digital folk should be on the agenda for future Supersonicos to come.
The other highlights of the night weren't necessarily surprising. Café Tacvba still is the most entertaining live act I've ever seen. A worthy headliner of this or any festival out there really. A lesser known band that certainly gained new fans is Bomba Estereo. Although most people didn't recognize them until "Fuego" boomed through the speakers, Liliana Saumet won that audience like no one else did on the main stage. There were also acts with less inconsistency. Los Rakas and AJ Dávila were a bit disappointing in how they decided to approach the festival. Both acts seem to have maximized their sonic output, designing it for a big crowd (Los Rakas by bringing a full funk band, and AJ Davila by choosing to shout before an almost empty stage). You can't really blame either band though. Transferring music discourse is a fragile transaction (especially if they set you up against Calle 13 on the main stage).