From October 14th to the 18th, the fourth edition of Festival Distritofónico will take place in some of the most important musical venues all around Bogotá. This isn’t like any other festival in Colombia, or even in Latin America. Organized and curated by the members of the record label La Distritofónica, this festival is rich and diverse, favoring the sounds of electronic music, rock, chamber music, jazz, folkloric Latin music, and tropical sounds, from this continent and beyond.
These will be four days where the organizers ask you to move around the city and immerse yourself in these shows, which aren’t necessarily the most typical type of concerts you can attend to regularly. So, you can witness American cellist Erik Friedlander performing the eighth volume of John Zorn’s Book of Angels, or get weird with Norwegian duo Invader Ace and their music made with tuba, electric guitar, and electronic gadgets. And those are just a couple of the international guests from the lineup, which also includes acts from Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and, of course, a number of artists from all over Colombia, like veteran psych-cumbia darlings Frente Cumbiero and the folkloric sounds of Chirimía del Río Napi.
Up next are a couple of the Colombian acts we recommend watching.
Bituin at Teatro Jorge Eliecer Gaitán, October 17th
The Bogotan quartet Bituin explores the body of work of some of the biggest and most beloved traditional singer/songwriters in the Latin American territory in a very daring and particular way. Using only bass, drums, and vocals, they give a free and quirky spin to songs by the likes of Chabuca Granda, Violeta Parra, Astor Piazzolla, and Simón Díaz, and the results are stunning.
Asdrubal at Matik-Matik, October 17th
This edition of the festival marks the return of the cult sextet Asdrubal, featuring all of its original members, some of whom happen to be part of La Distritofónica. Their mix of free jazz, metal, punk, and Colombian genres like cumbia, chirimía, and Caribbean música pelayera, sounds all too interesting to miss. Plus, they are celebrating the tenth anniversary of the release of their first album, so this one will be special.
Nicolás Ospina Trio at Auditorio del Planetario de Bogotá, October 14th
Nicolás Ospina is a Colombian singer/songwriter who makes some piano music that is both ludic and beautiful. His composition style undoubtedly comes from jazz, but you can hear some pop and cabaret on the results. His sweet voice sings lyrics full of metaphors and even some humor, with melodies that often feel complex, but still accessible.
Frente Cumbiero at Latino Power, October 18th
This one is a no-brainer. One of the most important bands to come out of the contemporary cumbia exploration boom, the guys from Frente Cumbiero not only make music that is interesting to dissect and analyze for its psychedelic and traditional elements, but it’s also a party. Although their style is limited even by their name, the music they make is exciting and fun and you can’t miss the crazy guitar work by Eblis Álvarez.
Carmelo Torres y Los Toscos at Latino Power, October 18th
Carmelo Torres is a legend when it comes to Colombian cumbia, specifically cumbia sabanera. He’s an old-school accordionist who mastered his craft with another giant, the great Andrés Landero. He’s joined live by Los Toscos, his supporting band which features members from MULA, and the aforementioned Frente Cumbiero and Asdrubal. Or, basically, a bunch of guys who know exactly what they’re doing.