The small, unassuming town of Toluca has begun bracing for the fifth installment of Festival Ceremonia, where the worlds of mainstream and underground music meet for a full day of insanity under the Mexican sun. Convening just outside the limits of Mexico City, the festival is unleashing their most ambitious lineup to date with names like Nicolas Jaar, Beach House, and James Blake all building buzzy anticipation. The festival is also continuing to build on their reputation as one of the best stages in Mexico to experience live hip-hop, this time including D.R.A.M. and several members of the Homegrown family on the bill. But in a world of male-dominated festivals, Ceremonia’s most noticeable shift comes in the form of their two headliners: MIA and Björk. The two iconic women, with starkly different careers, will be storming Ceremonia for some of the most hyped sets of the year, including the live participation of Björk’s production cohort Arca.
But worry not; there is plenty of incredible Latinx talent to go around, with some of our regular favorites Buscabulla, AJ Dávila, and Sotomayor ready to have their moment in the sun. And just to make sure you guys stay on top of things, we’ve put together a list of the five can’t-miss Latinx sets at this year’s festival. Suit up, stay hydrated, and enjoy the show.
Festival Ceremonia hits Toluca on Saturday, April 1. To purchase tickets, click here.
Kali Mutsa Featuring Imaabs
Chile’s high priestess of indie weird is bound to have one of Ceremonia’s most unique and memorable shows. Riding in hot off the heels of her excellent Mesmer EP, a 2016 highlight, Kali Mutsa will be delighting festivalgoers with her immersive kaleidoscopic sounds, which blend cumbia, reggaeton, bhangra, and every other genre of dance music under the sun. Kali’s festival performance comes ahead of her forthcoming collaborative EP with Chilean producer Imaabs, who will be joining her for on-stage duties. The two have found inspiration and struck a friendship over their outsider status within Chile’s polished and often homogeneous indie pop scene. The beats will be ferocious and the antics psychedelic. But music is only a portion of the Kali Mutsa package deal, as she’s also tapped production designer and visual artist Orly Anan, guaranteeing the stage will be luxuriously outfitted for unparalleled spectacle.
At only 22 years old, BrunOG is the quiet mastermind taking Mexico’s production game by storm. Starting out in a wholesome family band with his two sisters, the young musician soon developed a passion for the art of music making. BrunOG has pioneered a distinct sound within the local hip-hop and reggaeton scene, melding classic beatmaking with indie sensibilities. His bold compositions have led him to work with some of the hottest rappers of the moment, including Álvaro Díaz, Alemán, Simpson Ahuevo, and La Banda Bastön. But it’s his work in reggaeton that’s really turning heads. Collaborations with young artists like T.Y. and El Bruja reveal an exciting young spirit, unafraid of experimentation. BrunOG is electrifying the genre, speeding up tempos and infusing his songs with merengue and bachata samples, a welcome (if familiar) redesign of a sometimes-stagnant genre. Ceremonia is your chance to see this young up-and-comer in action.
Simpson Ahuevo, the pseudonym of Hermosillo-born rapper Jorge Beltrán, has conquered the CDMX hip-hop scene at meteoric speed. The MC is known for his unorthodox rhymes and infectious jams, taking stages all over Mexico and infusing his shows with carefree house party energy. Having performed at the first Ceremonia, Simpson Ahuevo’s return to the festival is a welcome treat, since this time he shares lineup credits with fellow Homegrown label members La Banda Bastön and BrunOG.
With a career largely catapulted by the underground success of his hit “Mextasis,” a single spin of Simpson Ahuevo’s full-length debut El Morroeste immediately makes clear his cult following is no fluke. Lush instrumentation, catchy hooks, and unrivaled swaggy coolness permeate the album on tracks like “Jaque Mate” and “Come Rap.” His music has evolved over the years, most recently taking a turn for the pop, borrowing production techniques and song structures common in mainstream reggaeton. This caught the ear of Toy Selectah and netted him a bouncy remix of Simpson’s already club-friendly “Fiebre.” If for nothing else, Simpson Ahuevo’s Ceremonia set is a can’t miss for the sheer fun and positive energy he is sure to rain down on the crowd.
Rey Pila is one of Mexico’s hottest bands, period. Their story began in 2008 with the break up of bandleader Diego Solorzáno’s previous band, Los Dynamite. Leaving him with a massive creative void to fill, Solorzáno immediately began working on his own solo project, relocating to NYC and recording the first Rey Pila album with producer Paul Mahajan (TV On the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs.) After putting together a full band for live shows and garnering critical acclaim, Rey Pila returned to NYC to record their follow-up Future Sugar. On this occasion, they signed to Julian Casablancas’ label Cult Records, where the band developed a relationship with The Strokes frontman, leading him to produce several tracks on their new album as well as inviting them to open for him on tour. Rey Pila’s music is straight out of a soundtrack from a classic 80s film: fast, moody, and synth-friendly. With the freshness of their sound and their bilingual songs, the band has found moderate crossover success, touring Europe and playing several U.S. festivals including two appearances at Austin City Limits. Ceremonia is the perfect chance to get a peek at Rey Pila’s forthcoming EP Wall of Goth before it sneaks onto your summer playlists.
La Banda Bastön
Ceremonia’s hip-hop friendly bill would not be complete with some royalty on the list. Enter La Banda Bastön. Active since the late 90s, the duo comprised of MC Muelas de Gallo and DJ/producer Dr. Zupreeme have been instrumental in establishing hip-hop as a successful and respected genre within the Mexican market. Starting out as young hip-hop fans in Baja California, La Banda Bastön relocated to CDMX to pursue music full-time, citing Control Machete as major influences and performing some of their first gigs at iconic punk flea market El Chopo.
Nearly 20 years down the line and an insane string of hits and collaborations later, La Banda Bastön are bonafide legends. Their music bounces between the outspoken and political with songs like “El País de las Maravillas” to lively freewheeling party anthems like “Me Gustas.” Their new album Luces Fantasmas is their most sober and polished effort to date, comprised of a whopping 18 tracks and featuring a crew of guests that include MLKMN, Yoga Fire, Álvaro Díaz and Mariel Mariel. These bastions of Mexican hip-hop will be dropping the full might of their catalog on the Ceremonia stage, sure to delight old fans and convert new ones.