We’d like to thank the organizers of this year’s Pachanga Latino Music Festival for turning Fiesta Gardens into a live music oasis on Saturday, May 30. Austin has a wealth of music festivals year-round. What distinguished Pachanga for us was the diversity of styles and genres represented. If you were in the mood for traditional music like Tejano or mariachi (Miguel Salgado, Mariachi Las Alteñas) or something upbeat and danceable like funk or electronica (Brownout, Mexican Institute of Sound) or something mellow like indie rock (Cordero, Dignan), it seems Pachanga had you covered. The only thing missing really was hip-hop. Maybe some metal would’ve been nice. Austin has some hard-rocking Latinos like metal band Pack of Wolves, who we recently spoke with. Maybe next time. I wouldn’t put it passed Pachanga to make next year’s fest even bigger and more diverse. So with that, here are some performances that really turned our heads and made us take notice:
Gaby Moreno. Wow! Who knew? Gaby Moreno, a Guatemalan singer-songwriter now living in Los Angeles, came out of nowhere to blow us away with her powerful pipes and fierce presence. Off stage, Moreno is soft-spoken and easy-going, but on stage she is like a wise blues club old-timer. She was “discovered” by Austinite musician David Garza, so thanks to him. Moreno has a very interesting story. You’ll want to read our interview with her coming soon.
Mexican Institute of Sound. Camilo Lara is a unique dude, perhaps bordering on eccentric genius. He is the man behind the beats and samples of Mexican Institute of Sound, a Mexico City electronica act that mixes hip-hop influences with traditional Mexican sounds to create a fun and upbeat pastiche of modern dance music. When Lara isn’t headlining festivals at night, he attends his day job as president of the record label EMI Mexico. Watch MIS perform “Cumbia”:
Chris Perez. He’s back! Chris Perez is perhaps best known for his role with the Kumbia Kings and as the widower of the late Tejano music legend Selena. Perez has teamed up with local singer Angel Ferrer to create a new band. The band doesn’t have a name yet, but they’ve got a contest going on to name the band. One thing they do have is strong stage presence and loyal fans. Check out this cover of the Caifanes hit “Afuera”:
Dignan. This band was a surprise. I have to admit when I heard their songs on MySpace I was mildly receptive. I thought, “Eh, this sounds okay, but nothing special.” Then I saw them live and I was more than pleasantly surprised. Dignan has a knack for that big ethereal wall of sound style that gets bands noticed on Red River. Too bad they live in McAllen, and not here.
Ocote Soul Sounds. Martin Perna of the New York afrobeat orchestra Antibalas has a new project with Grupo Fantasma guitarist Adrian Quesada. Ocote mixes all kinds of world sounds with funk and Latin styles. It’s laid back but you can definitely get down on the dance floor to Ocote. Perna flew in from Nicaragua, where he and his wife had been living all year, to play this special set.