Events as sprawling as Festival Marvin can be both thrilling and frustrating. The festival puts on more than 50 potentially life-changing events over the course of three days (all music shows are held on the third day; the previous two are for workshops and conferences), something that’s both a blessing and a curse. A single glance at the program could induce panic in those trying to catch all of their favorite acts.
Inspired by SXSW, the festival is held at 10 venues in the Condesa-Roma neighborhoods of Mexico City, all within walking distance of one another. Festival Marvin is one of the biggest opportunities for Mexican music fans to check out an eclectic bill of artists from across the city, the country, and the world. This year, the festival featured veteran cult figures (like ESG) alongside now vintage indie darlings (like The Polyphonic Spree), as well as vaporwave bands, punk artists, and everything in between.
Luckily, the prospect of missing stellar sets didn’t overshadow the pros of the day-long affair, which took place on Saturday, May 21. Though the Parque España stage was subdued throughout most of the festival, Mariel Mariel‘s set was a particular highlight. The atmosphere was chill amid the heat the audience fought with sponsor-provided popsicles; the Chilean singer kept the energy high with great selections from her Foto Pa Ti album as well as her hip-hop take on Juan Cirerol’s “Toque y Rol.”
A new venue called Foro Bizarro (situated above a goth-themed beer hall) hosted many guitar-driven bands. Marvin invited tons of artists from outside Mexico City to strut their stuff here. While playing music is not an easy endeavor amid so much industry competition, developing your sound outside of the country’s cultural epicenters can be even more demanding and expensive. Luckily, blogs, collectivization, and community building among musicians has allowed underground acts to shine and be considered for a bigger forum like Marvin.
El Shirota and Nelson y Los Filisteos cranked up the fuzz for their loud AF sets, while Los Sex Sex Sex’s guitar raves drew inspiration from classic rock ‘n’ roll while invoking the danger of primordial punk. Later, Guadalajara’s Norwayy played goth-tinged post-punk that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a 4AD label sampler back in the day, while Felina strutted with attitude, shrieking voices, and feedback-laced guitars. Hardcore punks Annapura, one of the underground’s most beloved bands, set the stage on fire with their hyper-speed set.
Elsewhere, Caradura hosted an eclectic mix of artists, with Car Crash Sisters propelling the afternoon into anthemic choruses and guitar damage breakdowns, standing out between poppier and funkier affairs. Patanegra has become the place to be for hip-hop heads, and it was one of the most crowded venues of the entire festival. Audri Nix debuted on Mexican soil with a fire set that got people buzzing, including Houston rapper Fat Tony, who later expressed how impressed he was with her.
— Fat Tony (@fattonyrap) May 23, 2016
Covadonga hosted the big events and even the closing portion of the festival (courtesy of Trillones). Minimal funk cult heroes ESG delivered a healthy serving of heavy basslines and breakbeats, getting down with some of the most sampled sounds in history. That a South Bronx band from the early 80s recorded by Joy Division’s producer was one of the most-anticipated and well-received acts speaks volumes to the diversity of Festival Marvin. Expect this festival to rule Mexico one day.