Pachanga Latino Music Festival
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., May 18, 2012
Pachanga Latino Music FestivalFiesta Gardens, May 12
Saturday at 1pm, the small line for Pachanga Fest's second-day opening couldn't adequately mirror that which had loaded in early and at full capacity to Fiesta Gardens: Lou Reed's proverbial "Perfect Day." Crowning a week of May showers that had otherwise let up only for Pachanga headliners Calle 13 the previous night (see "Playback," p.49), the cool, breezy, big-fluffy-clouds day that barely cracked 80 degrees here in single-season, triple-digit Austin practically guaranteed festival attendance records being bested nine hours later. A perfect build of multi-angle musical Latinate matched the dream weather. Politics' sharp indie rock didn't angle its stiletto songs and guitars in any obvious "Latino" direction, if such a thing even exists, but the locals from El Paso chuckled at a reporter's own "you don't look Hispanic" anecdote afterward. At the opposite end of the Pachanga spectrum, Patricia Vonne offered free castanet lessons in unsheathing her contribution to brother Robert Rodriguez's Once Upon a Time in Mexico film and soundtrack, then flourished Austin-brazed flamenco rock dedicated to Spanish poet García Lorca. When Vonne reappeared on the main stage hours later to Alejandro Escovedo's exhortations of a "castanets solo, c'mon!" during his velvet rocker "Castanets," she proved no less emblematic, nor did her instrumental clacking, snapping at the main microphone as the bandleader and second guest Davíd Garza bore down on their electric guitars. Garza maintained his mayor of Pachanga profile, sandwiching the Escovedo kick-out with his annual headliner slot at the Niños Rock tent and welcoming both Nina Diaz and Amy Cook to his own late-afternoon performance. With the former, he sought some mosh with "Fight for Your Right To Party" ("Every kid should know about the Beastie Boys," he explained), but got it on "The Hokey Pokey," and, as accompanied by the Girl in a Coma early and Amy Cook for closing rouser "Woolly Bully," Garza could do no wrong. In between – in the house – came Laredo son, salsa y "sabor" indie sextet Umano Ache nailing the Buena Vista Social Club standard "El Cuarto de Tula"; a so-called "Mexican John Mayer" in Gustavo Galindo (note to Pachanga – the teen Latina demographic remains untapped); and Brazilian expats Forro in the Dark utilizing the same second line drum style as Argentina's Los Fabulosos Cadillacs for grassroots propulsion. And let's not forget the homegrown sound of a century in Ruben Ramos' cumbia-kissing big-band polka, as handsome as its anointed Gato Negro out front. That left Chilean headliners Ana Tijoux and Chico Trujillo to rile up the balmy afternoon's cerveza set – she with militant rap en Español, charisma, and greatest-hit calling card "1977." After "El Lay" ensemble La Santa Cecilia matched the commanding depth of singer Marisol Hernandez to congas, accordion, and electric mariachi guitar on "Tainted Love"/"One Love," Girl in a Coma raged across the park on the Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatal." Looking and sounding uncannily like Joe "King" Carrasco's Eighties Austin Nuevo Wavo, Chico Trujillo's cumbia-cum-soccer rock went head-to-head with Los Lonely Boys' harmonious Texican blues. "I've already got next year halfway booked in my head," enthused Pachanga majordomo Rich Garza.