Tropicália Festival is probably the only event where music and tacos are equally important. Of course, we love them both, so we’re all geared up for the inaugural edition of the Long Beach fest this Saturday, November 11. Although there’s only one act on the lineup that represents the Brazilian movement of the fest’s namesake, a ticket to Tropicália guarantees an eclectic experience. Latinx artists are represented front and center, with norteño mainstays Los Tigres del Norte, rock legends Café Tacvba, Chicano Batman, and Kali Uchis headlining the celebration. Joining them are teen Chicano balladeer Cuco, Colombian cumbia kings Sonora Dinamita, and accordion slayer Celso Piña, among others. But the musical menu is vast: Madlib, King Krule, Jhené Aiko, and Ginuwine are all also part of the festival offerings. Oh, and expect La Caballota Ivy Queen to shut it down.
Getting to the festival early is a good idea; Tropicália is offering all-you-can-eat tacos until 4 p.m., supplied by almost 30 local vendors. To help you navigate some of the up-and-coming artists giving it their all this Saturday, we put together a trusty list of acts you can’t miss.
Tropicália Music & Taco Festival goes down on Saturday, November 11.
East LA trio Thee Commons, comprised of José Rojas and brothers David and René Pacheco, filter the cumbia influences of their Mexican roots through a punk lens. The result is an irresistible dance party; the trio was named one of the best live Los Angeles bands by LA Weekly in 2016. Thee Commons released their latest full-length Paleta Sonora earlier this year through Cósmica Records. Each of the album’s 18 songs leave a psychedelic trail of dust, whether they’re playing rancheras, surf rock, cumbia, garage, or a blend of all of the above. Their ultimate goal is to redefine the signature California sound, and they’re certainly doing so.
The band has a healthy discography dating all the way back to 2013, which comprises two more studio albums co-released by Burger Records, the first one being a compilation of their eight-EP series titled Rock is Dead: Long Live Paper and Scissors, all evidence of the continued evolution of their sound. Tropicália is one of the last stops on their ongoing 40-date U.S. fall tour, and it will surely be memorable.
Thee Commons plays the Mota stage at 12:40 p.m.
Jessie Reyez is undoubtedly a star in the making. Scroll through the Colombian-Canadian singer’s YouTube channel and you’ll find heartfelt, stripped-down covers of songs by Adele, Justin Bieber, and Twenty One Pilots with thousands of views. Reyez was a viral sensation before she went on to become a fully-fledged artist, a journey she documented on her only EP to date, titled Kiddo. The project also chronicles stories of heartbreak (“Figures”) and encounters with abusive industry bosses (“Gatekeeper”), displaying the power of her squeaky voice and a style so versatile it can carry both an acoustic ballad and a dance beat without breaking a sweat. Reyez accomplishes all of this while conveying raw emotion through her vocal delivery.
Her live shows are a mix of a DJ-based R&B and pop and solo acoustic ballads, and usually feature covers of some of her favorite artists, like Chance the Rapper and SchoolboyQ, a nod to her beginnings as a YouTube phenomenon. But, of course, her own songs are the ones that will make her set worthwhile. You can see it for yourself this Saturday.
Jessie Reyez plays the Modelo stage at 8:30 p.m.
The genre label “psychedelic” has been attached to East LA quintet Inner Wave since its members were teenagers, but with every new release, they continue to show they’re so much more that. On Underwater Pipe Dreams, their latest album, they reinvent their psych-rock foundation in favor of an experimental pop aesthetic, sounding breezy and approachable instead of dense and woozy. In this framework, they float through their influences, connecting seamlessly jangly guitars, soulful, fuzzy bass lines, laid-back dance-pop, and experimental falsettos. After the post-Tame Impala explosion of bands evoking those 70s textures, it’s a delight to hear a band channel their own voice so well.
Composed of childhood friends Jean Pierre Narvaez, Alexandro Avilez, Chris Runners, Elijah Trujillo, and frontman Pablo Sotelo, Inner Wave remains a garage adventure, just as they started out about 11 years ago. Now, they sound like a top-tier band that’s ready for its close-up. Just listen to singles like the smooth “Bower” or “Buffalo” and its slick swing and you’ll understand what we mean.
Inner Wave plays the Mota Stage at 3:30 p.m.
The Red Pears
Hailing from El Monte, California, Juan Aguilar, José Corona, and Henry Vargas align in a classic rock formation to perform raw tunes under the name The Red Pears. Like Inner Wave, the three young men have known each other since they were kids, but have been playing together for only a few years, practicing religiously in the back of a daycare they named Daycare Records. It was there that they recorded the hilariously-titled We Bring Anything to The Table……Except Tables We Can’t Bring Tables to The Table, their self-released debut album, which includes 11 reckless songs reminiscent of early 2000s rock bands from New York and the UK, though it also channels some of the rockabilly punk tradition from their hometown in a very subtle way. The vibe is cool and carefree, and the distorted lo-fi aesthetics of their recordings match it perfectly.
Their latest single, Bandcamp loosie “11:03,” shows a softer side. The acoustic ballad is a haunting number that celebrates the singer’s requited love. But it’s safe to say that Tropicália festivalgoers should expect explosive guitars, crunchy bass, and pounding drums.
The Red Pears play the Modelo Stage at 3:10 p.m.
Very Be Careful
It’s been 20 years since Very Be Careful got together to fill the streets of LA with rhythms from the rich tradition of folk music in northern Colombia. Dante Ruiz, Richard Panta, Craig Martin, and brothers Ricardo and Arturo Guzman have spent their musical careers interpreting Colombian cumbia and vallenato, remaining faithful to its core instrumentation and performance (as they say in the South American country, con sentimiento, hermano). Using little more than accordion, caja vallenata, guacharaca, cowbell, and bass, and led by Ricardo Guzman’s voice, they have recorded seven albums, the latest being 2012’s ¿Remember Me From The Party? With their roots-oriented approach, they’ve connected with Latino fans across the globe, performing at international festivals like Glastonbury and Fuji Rock.
Very Be Careful have stuck to their guns throughout all these years; they simply do what they do best: making people dance with their sticky cumbia rhythms. Their Spanish-language lyrics are often written by the Guzman brothers’ mother, Daisy, and are packed with romantic references, witty double entendres, and tons of humor.
Very Be Careful plays the Modelo stage at 7 p.m.