Mexicans With Guns
Loaded for Pachanga at Fiesta Gardens Saturday
1:40pm, Patio Stage
Plucking her custom-built charango over a haunting hum of accordion, Austin native and University of Texas grad Gina Chavez drifts from English to Spanish on the bilingual blues of "Miles de Millas (2000 Miles)," produced by Charanga Cakewalk ringleader Michael Ramos. Sound sets the mood, but it's the folkloric "Embrujo" of Chavez's voice that sears the memory. – Thomas Fawcett
2:50pm, Patio Stage
Last Pachanga, Willie Alvarado held an overflowing festival tent rapt with traditional Mexican heartache garnered from a childhood as a migrant farmworker (see "Willie Alvarado," May 21, 2010). On the crooner's self-titled 2009 debut, the San Angelo restaurateur/entrepreneur poured his heart into a timeless balladry as introduced to Austin last May. – Raoul Hernandez
3:30pm, Hierba Stage
Enrique Rumiche's calling card remains La Guerrilla's eponymous EP from 2009, a ska-bleated scuffle of South American rock. From the frontman's Eugene Hütz-esque accent to an Argentine swagger recalling Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, the 19-minute disc (and group itself) also comes with a secret weapon besides the live sextet's brass: Liza McCown on violin. – Raoul Hernandez
6:15pm, Hierba Stage
Equal parts hardscrabble caricature and underground rapper, H-town's Pedro Herrera III's alter ego stirred plenty of race-baited controversy with 2007's They Can't Deport Us All. His latest mixtape, The Leak, proves "The Versace Mariachi" is still tippin' on par with Paul Wall. Download it at blog.chingobling.com/free. – Austin Powell
4:30pm, Pavilion Stage
Chicanoson celebrates la resistencia in the form of traditional Son Jarocho music from Veracruz, Mexico. The Los Angeles-based champions of Chicano culture and community come from musical backgrounds as diverse as East L.A. punk rockers Subsistencia and Austin indie outfit Maneja Beto. – Thomas Fawcett
8:40pm, Patio Stage
"The music was grounded in rhythms like the Mexican cumbia, but topped with cool keyboard tones that tilted the songs toward 1980s electro or jazz," writes New York Times expert Jon Pareles of Maneja Beto. On the indie Español quintet's third disc last year, Escante Calling, that digital thrill and chill muscled vestiges of classic Latin rock ("Panteón") belonging on a mixtape next to Malo's "Suavecito." – Raoul Hernandez
Mariachi las Alteñas
4:30pm, Pavilion Stage
When the ladies of Mariachi las Alteñas take the stage in their cardinal-red trajes de charro and blazing white sombreros, they mean business. While Latin males have traditionally performed mariachi music, all-female mariachis are no longer a novelty, and certainly not this San Antonio octet. On the Pachanga main stage last year, the group gathered an ever-expanding audience like horchata draws ants at a picnic.
"It's a growing thing for women to play mariachi," said Valerie Vargas, director and founder of Mariachi las Alteñas. "It's taken off with mariachi programs in the schools. It's always been male-dominated, but more females than men seem to be taking the classes."
A summer music program began Vargas' road to mariachidom at age 13. About six years later, in 2002, she formed Mariachi las Alteñas. Next spring the endeavor turns 10. Most teenage girls would have aspired to pop.
"A lot of these [old] songs are about love and passion," enthuses Vargas. "Our job is to interpret it for ourselves and convey those feelings to the audience. To do that, you have to love the music." – Belinda Acosta
Mexicans With GunsCeremony (Innovative Leisure)
San Antonio DJ Ernest Gonzales' masked alter ego, Mexicans With Guns, threads remix theory through the eye of total chaos – death and rebirth reshaped into electronic sculpture. No easy task, that, but Gonzales makes Ceremony an event, seamlessly fusing his mixtapes into a whole, drawing on hip-hop, drum 'n' bass, and Latin forms with inventive results. Between hi-NRG sample sales ("Dame Lo," "El Sol y La Luna") and slow jams ("Deities"), his ear for off-center beats and altered states demonstrates his collaborative nature. Closer "El Moreno," featuring electro en Español balladeer Helado Negro, mixes Gonzales' right and left brain to dreamy effect, while on "Highway to Hell," guest star Freddie Gibbs sounds more spirited than the blunted rapper ever has, and Chico Mann split "Me Gusto" transcends the barrio, updating cumbia for the nu-glitch set. This isn't just needle-dropping, either – Ceremony concludes at a higher elevation.
(5:20pm, DJ Stage)
– Audra Schroeder
5:30pm, DJ Stage
The brainchild of producer and professional party-starter Orion, Austin's Peligrosa All-Stars concoct a dangerous brew of cumbia, salsa, hip-hop, and baile funk.
Master Blaster Sound System
5:30pm, Patio Stage
Expect a steady stream of speaker-rattling South Texas thump as DJ Dus, Brian Ramos, and Cecy Treviño unleash the "Cumbia Krunk" of this Corpus Christi crew.
8:50pm, DJ Stage
Monterrey's Toy Selectah broke ground as the DJ behind the sinister stylings of Mexico's Control Machete. His tastes have recently gravitated toward cumbia and eclectronica, with latest EP Mex Machine every bit the global romp one would expect from Diplo's Mad Decent label. Thomas Fawcett
6:50pm, Patio Stage
It's one thing to remix, and quite another to reimagine. Filtering the righteous Afrobeat of Fela Kuti through the lens of Latin freestyle, Chico Mann spawned a new sound: Afro freestyle.
"When you start subdividing Afrobeat and funk patterns, it starts sounding like freestyle, which, growing up in New Jersey, was ubiquitous," he explains. "That's the conception of this Afro freestyle. What if they had done merengue with an 808 drum machine, you know?"
As Chico Mann, producer/vocalist/Antibalas guitarist Marcos Garcia uses that drum machine to blast holes in the time-space continuum. He remembers the moment he first heard Afrobeat's funky fusion, but the slick boogie of Afrika Bambaataa and freestyle artists like Shannon and Exposé is more deeply ingrained. "I loved that early hip-hop," says Garcia, "so my expression of Afrobeat is being filtered through my growing up as a bicultural Latino right outside of New York."
All of it adds up to Analog Drift (Wax Poetics), a hypnotizing set of 8-bit Afrobeat boosted by mystical and slightly off-kilter bilingual vocals. "It's an ongoing musical conversation between Africa and the Americas and the African diaspora as it's in conversation with European harmony. Then you add the electronic element, and now it's something different but still part of this larger conversation that's been going on for 500 years." – Thomas Fawcett
7:50pm, Pavilion Stage
Adrian Quesada has a project for every occasion. Founding member of Grammy-winning local Latin ensemble Grupo Fantasma and its mostly instrumental offshoot Brownout, the guitarist also leads Ocote Soul Sounds, his Afrobeat collaboration with Antibalas dream weaver Martin Perna. The Echocentrics, however, is his first solo endeavor, with new debut Sunshadows (Ubiquity) spinning dusty grooves and sun-woozy psychedelia like some tropical soundtrack from the 1960s.
"They all start as studio projects and develop from there," related Quesada during a judges' intermission at the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians' recent Corporate Battle of the Bands. "I've been working on this for about five years. I just kept getting off track with all of the touring. Last summer I took time off from Grupo to focus on finishing this record."
Sunshadows features guest vocals from Brooklyn-based Argentinean singer Natalia Clavier, a frequent Thievery Corporation collaborator and the wife of Federico Aubele, as well as Brazil's Tita Lima, daughter of Os Mutantes bassist Liminha. The ladies' blend of English, Portuguese, and Spanish lends an exotic otherness. Both are being flown in for Pachanga. "I really wanted to explore the more cinematic aspect of soul music, like how Serge Gainsbourg was reacting to soul music in the late Sixties," says Quesada. "With that stuff, the voice is just like another instrument in the mix." – Austin Powell
Ozo 6 (Discography)
9:30pm, Pavilion Stage
More Northern Mexico than Southern California, the Ozo 10's first gathering feasts mouthwatering bilingual morsels of traditional cumbia, salsa, and hip-hop funk-rock. "¿Dónde Se Fueron?" lopes like a Spanish-language version of Fastball's "The Way," while Chali 2na's "Super Bowl Sundae" proves Ozomatli's worth as spoken in closer "La Misma Canción": "Not the same ol' mierda."
Embrace the Chaos (2001)
New-millennial bristling slumps sophomore on Ozo's identity crisis as both hip-hop revolutionaries ("Vocal Artillery") with big-shot guest spots (De La Soul on "1234") – minus the debut's Cut Chemist – and an east-side fiesta act ("Pá Lante"). Band standard "Dos Cosas Ciertas" survives, chanting down life's dual certainties: death and change.
Street Signs (2004)
Third-time charmer reaffirms Ozomatli as a raza juggernaut. Cubanismo in the title cut matches the brown to black back-to-back of "(Who Discovered) America?" and three-way sizzle of Jiro Yamaguchi's tabla, Ulises Bella's melodica, and newly billed Interscope artist and Ozo guest slinger Chali 2na on "Who's To Blame." "Déjame en Paz" houses home-team chant "Ozo ... matli."
Live at the Fillmore (2005)
Audio-visual double-up bottles Hispanidad's the Roots in San Francisco. "The Seed" meets Santana of "(Who Discovered) America?" arcs through Ulises Bella's clarinet solo to the final drum line into the crowd that got the Ozo 3 arrested at SXSW 2004. Seventy-five minutes of DVD becomes 50 on CD; look for "Stubb's Samba" on the former's extras.
Don't Mess With the Dragon (2007)
Assimilation, beginning with urban interloper "City of Angels," starring Dragon sirens Cecilia Bastida and Pilar Diaz, through the Chili Peppers-lite of "When I Close My Eyes." Neon melodies, Caribbean accents, and a Teflon polish whip up a global groove including reggaeton ("Here We Go)," though the "After Party" and bon temps roule too long ("Magnolia Soul)."
Fire Away (2010)
More North Hollywood than South Central, Ozo integration is complete: Bob Schneider-worthy adult rock ("45"), bad pickup lines ("Nada Por Free"), and Miami Sound Machine ("Malagasy Shock"). When any act reverts to "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah," it's time to re-evaluate. Truly squirm-inducing: "Gay Vatos in Love."