05/12/12 @ Fiesta GardensPachanga Fest: Ana Tijoux (and more)
Gunshots and a military drum beat set the tone on the title track of La Bala
(The Bullet), the sophomore salvo from French-Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux. The album fits into a rich tradition of Chilean protest music that includes Victor Jara, the Nueva Canción martyr murdered by the same Pinochet regime that sent Tijoux’s parents to exile in France.
Last year, while the Arab Spring bloomed and protesters occupied Wall Street and beyond, students took to the streets of Chile. “La Bala,” delivered in Tijoux’s precise and poetic rhymes, tells of a young demonstrator killed by police.
“Culture is a reflection of the country and what is happening in society,” Tijoux declares. “As a citizen, as a mother, as a Chilean, as a South American woman, I was talking about education and about the protests with my kid, with my mother, with my friends and with other musicians. To make a song about it was very natural. It was almost a necessity.
“The fact that the young students in Chile are protesting for a free and good education is beautiful. It’s kids talking about what they want and their future. There is nothing more beautiful than that. It’s a fight about life and about hope and dreams. We are free to dream and to want another kind of world.”
Those dreams are present in the softer moments of La Bala. The boom-bap of golden era hip-hop is still present, but so too are lush string arrangements and the hushed whisper of Tijoux’s smoky singing. It’s easy to appreciate whether or not la letra is lost in translation.
“It’s about music first of all, and energy. It’s not strange that people listen to me without understanding. All the world listens to North American music without understanding either.”
– Thomas Fawcett
MORE SATURDAY PACHANGA
Hierba stage, 9pm
Chico Trujillo formed in Chile more than a dozen years ago, paying homage to cumbia’s golden age with a rumbling big band sound and cheeky cover art harkening back to the mid-20th century. A spin-off of Chilean ska band La Floripondio, Chico Trujillo isn’t one to play it straight either. Delivered live con gusto, “Ahora Quien” reveals a punk rock love affair, while “La Escoba” nearly rides off the rails with the swirling debauchery of an Irish drinking anthem. – T.F.
La Santa Cecilia
Patio stage, 8pm
Lila Downs, SXSW 2012 “La Reyna del Inframundo” (Queen of the Underworld), won’t be swigging tequila at Pachanga, but La Santa Cecilia might. Limon y sal or no, La Marisoul heads up her sixpiece Los Angelinos in similar fashion – at the hips and by the throat. Over a series of handmade EPs increasingly Afro-Pan-American, her bilingual folk-pop danceteria huffs cumbia, bossa nova, and ultimately grassroots Hispanica. Shot glass worthy. – Raoul Hernandez
Forro in the Dark
Hierba stage, 5:10pm
Born from a one-off birthday jam for bandleader and zabumba drummer Mauro Refosco, Forro in the Dark has transformed into a bona fide scion of the loping dance music of rural northeastern Brazil. The quartet of Brazilian ex-pats has been filling the dance floors of New York nightclubs since 2002 and earned a co-sign from David Byrne, who helped spark debut Bonfires of São João.– T.F.
Niños Rock Pachanga
Electro Cumbia stage, 1-5pm
Herding los más pequeños to Pachanga Fest? Say que paso? to Niños Rock Pachanga, the kids area where the next generation can rock out at their own personal photo session, join the Piñata Party, win on a cupcake walk, and make clay tamales, masks, or a floral halo. Particularly noteworthy are the music workshops with David Garza (songwriting), Bobby Garza (keyboards), Son Armado (percussion). Kids under 12 get in free with a paid adult. – Margaret Moser
by Thomas Fawcett & Raoul Hernandez
Los Lonely Boys
Pavilion stage, 9:15pm
Santanista siblings cook up Rockpango.
Girl in a Coma
Pavilion stage, 7:45pm
San Antonio-bred, Morrissey-branded, Joan Jett-endorsed.
Pavilion stage, 6:15pm
Grupo Fantasma extract whose new disc Oozy explores lowrider soul.
Patio stage, 6:10pm
Unoffical Pachanga Fest emcee, duet king, and song/strum dervish.
Los Bandidos Cosmicos
Electro Cumbia stage, 5:45pm
DJ Manny and Afrofreque’s Claude McCan team for spacey dancehall jams.
Pavilion stage, 4:45pm
June’s Big Station orbits third and most Bowie-esque collaboration with Space Oddity producer Tony Visconti.
Patio stage, 4:20pm
“Indie en Español” only because synth-wave-hard-rock-cumbia ain’t too catchy.
Ruben Ramos & the Mexican Revolution
Pavilion stage, 3:15pm
Grammy-winning Tejano titan “El Gato Negro” has led the Mexican Revolution since 1969.
Pavilion stage, 2pm
When not in brother Robert Rodriguez’s films, Vonne’s Tejano twang remains well Worth It.