Pachanga Fest kept the party going at Austin’s Fiesta Gardens for the seventh year since the festival’s humble start in 2008. The Latina/o-themed music, arts and food festival celebrates Latin American roots beyond Mexico, bringing Caribbean, Central and South American cultures together into one party. Despite scaling back from two days to one, the festival still drew massive crowds and featured renown artists such as Making Movies, La Santa Cecilia, El Gran Silencio and headliner Julieta Venegas.
Female artists of all genres and origins dominated Pachanga Fest this year, including stars such as Marisoul from La Santa Cecilia, Julieta Venegas, Niña Dioz and Gaby Moreno. Performing everything from soulful blues to cumbia-infused rap, las mujeres of the festival kept the crowds dancing and singing.
Niña Dioz is an MC from Monterey, Nuevo Leon, who started her rapping career at age 17 and has not stopped since. She held full-time office jobs to pay for her studio time and since then has grown to be known internationally. Performing her newly released song called “Pijama’s Song” as well as her collaboration hit with Bomba Estereo’s Liliana Saumet “La Cumbia Prohibida”, Niña Dioz had the crowd “turned up” the whole set.
Guatemalan singer-songerwriter Gaby Moreno brought cool blues to an otherwise scorching day at Pachanga Fest. Gaby transcends both language and genre, singing in Spanish and English and fusing blues, jazz and R&B. After performing songs from her latest album ‘Postales’, she ended her set with a powerful rendition of ‘Quizas,Quizas,Quizas’ with none other than La Santa Cecilia frontwoman, Marisoul.
La Santa Cecilia, a band from Los Angeles, California has been on the run since last year, rehearsing, recording a new album, touring nationally and soon will be collaborating with new artist. Grammy Award winning La Santa Cecilia’s Marisoul ruled the stage with her stirring voice that as always holds a strong and sincere presence. The band did a surprise performance with Austin-based Cuban duo Krudas Cubensi and had the audience hooked with their hip-hop and cumbia fusion.
Another band representing Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, is the legendary group El Gran Silencio who is currently touring in the US. The band has played together for over 22 years and is known for pioneering the mix of ska, cumbia and hip hop in Mexico. They have collaborated with Celso Piña, Juan Gabriel, Los Auténticos Decadentes, among other Latina/o artists. As soon as “Dormir Soñando” started, one El Gran Silencio’s classics, the crowd began skanking in a circle, a ska ritual that continued throughout the set.
With more than 20 years in the music business, Julieta Venegas is easily one of the most well-known pop stars of Latin America. Starting off as the vocals behind ska band Tijuana No!, Julieta has delved into various sounds, winning over the hearts of rockers and pop fans alike. Playing her classics like ‘Eres Para Mi’ and ‘Lento’, Julieta lined up hundreds of fans as the headliner act, swaying entire families to dance and sing along.
Somehow Pachanga Fest has discovered the truth behind Latinos that mainstream media and other festivals have yet to get: we are complex. Truth is even if you are a metalero hasta la muerte, you will never forget the words to mom’s favorite norteño or vallenato or bachata or merengue. Hence the countless, musical hybrids that have sprung from the Latino scene. While up-and-coming artist Niña Dioz may be mixing rap and cumbia now, acts like El Gran Silencio have fused cumbia, ska and hip hop for more than 20 years, attracting audiences young and old. Pachanga Fest understands this and have spoiled us each year with a taste of every genre not yet invented, from all across Latin America. Point is until any other festival in Austin can provide the same variety of culture and genre as Pachanga Fest can, we’ll choose Pachanga Fest every time.