With a lineup as diverse as the colors of the flags represented, four stages and more than 40 artists on stage, the third edition of Los Dells managed to gather more than 30,000 enthusiastic and energetic revelers from all corners of the Midwest to sing and celebrate their pride and love for our Latin culture. There were all kinds of music to suit all tastes, from classics like Carlos Vives, El Fantasma and Elvis Crespo to emerging talents such as PJ sin Suela, Inner Wave and Ambar Lucid. The 15,000 acres of forest surrounding the Woodside Sports Complex in Mauston, Wisconsin once again transformed into an immersive atmosphere, where, for two days, perreo, banda, psychedelic rock and ballads gathered as a single vibrant and magical sonority.
While an annual Labor Day Weekend tradition for some, for others, it’s a new way to close the summer with a flourish. Los Dells is not just music; it is a one-of-a-kind experience that explores what it means to be a Latino, and it invites us to embrace our identity from different perspectives. From camping in the middle of the forest to sharing a collective bonfire with strangers who would become family and speaking Spanglish as the official language, the essential components of this celebration represent a very authentic and raw representation of Latinos.
Here are some of our favorite moments from The Dells.
If there is one thing that was the highlight of the third edition of Los Dells, it was the strong female representation, starting with the three Latin American divas that have transformed the Latin American pop scene: Mon Laferte, Ximena Sariñana and Natalia Lafourcade, each representing a unique style, sensuality, elegance and strength – and each offering an acoustic show the day before the festival that successfully seduced the public. In the same way, emerging artists, such as Dominican American Ambar Lucid, casually touring with her “spiritual mother,” Mon made the audience fall in love with her dramatic voice and strong meaningful lyrics that reflect her powerful personality and resilient but vulnerable soul.
Similarly, Y La Bamba reflected on the true meaning of being a woman through her song, “Mujeres.” Her music reflects her rebellion after growing up in a misogynist culture that made it very difficult for women like her to break into the music industry. Her statements – such as “we are healing from these narratives,” “as women, and as people of color” – strongly resonated with the audience.
These two magical, vibrant days could not have had a better closing than with reggaeton superstar Ozuna at the helm, who in addition to being the most-awaited acts, exploded onto the Los Dells scene with unbridled energy. However, beyond that, Ozuna crackled with vitality and conquered the stage with his performance.
Ozuna wasn’t afraid to show his sensitive side to the audience. In one of his shows some time ago, he brought his daughter to sing next to him. This time, he showed his sensitive and loving side yet again. He invited a small boy to take the stage and sing with him, and after blessing him and hugging him, thanked his dad for bringing him to his show – a gesture that melted the hearts of the entire audience and made them pause for a few minutes. As Ozuna promised, his act was one that his fans would not forget and it was the best possible way to close the third edition of Los Dells.
The Hip Hop Scene
The genre that has connected people from different cultures – emerging as a global rhythm and is increasingly becoming prevalent in the Latino community – also made its presence felt in Los Dells. PJ sin Suela – the Puerto Rican rapper who paused his career as a doctor and has recently collaborated with Bad Bunny and Guyana – rapped alongside the majority of his Puerto Rican followers, a symbol of the importance and influence of music as a form of social activism. This comes after he – along with iLe, Residente and Bad Bunny – joined the protests in Puerto Rico to demand the resignation of former Governor Ricardo Rosselló.
Los Dells festival never fails to enlist musical legends each year. This time, the guests of honor were two legends dominating their genres, Carlos Vives and Elvis Crespo. The multiple Grammy award-winning singer, Elvis Crespo, offered a wonderful show on Saturday afternoon, showing a strong connection with the public. Phrases like “Eh la Cosa!” and “Pequeña, echate pa’ca” captivated the audience. In addition to singing his classics that have transcended movements and fashions like “Suavemente” and “Merenguero,” he also performed some singles from his next album “Multitudes” in celebration of 20 years of “Suavemente.” He has plans to collaborate with fellow Puerto Rican, Manny Manuel. Meanwhile, on Sunday, Carlos Vives, the King of the Vallenato and Cumbia-Pop who has had a 32-year upward trajectory, danced with impressive energy alongside classic themes such as “La Gota Fría” and “La bicicleta,” both shows that seduced the audience dance to the music. The performance of the legends repeatedly stressed unity and solidarity among Latinos. Carlos repeatedly said that “Venezuela now needs us more” and “We as Latinos must show our solidarity.” He would also name the flag of each country he would see flying in the multicultural audience.
Café Tacvba activism
If there is anything that Café Tacvba is known for in particular, it is their stance and sensitivity to social problems. Their presentation at Los Dells was no exception. Pausing between their most symbolic songs such as “Amor Divino” and “Eres,” the band reflected with the public about migration, toxic masculinity, gender violence, and the environment.
They also reinforced the message that “we are all migrants.” “Victory for the planet” was the most shouted out phrase by the Chilanga band that day. The group will soon release their second “MTV Unplugged” under the production of Gustavo Santaolalla and Anibal Kerpel, coinciding with their 30-year career. Also, since they had been considering whether or not to play “La Ingrata” due to its problematic ending, they decided to cut off the last part of the song as a way of showing solidarity against the victims of femicide.
Many of the attendees not only came to see their favorite artists but also to discover new musical talent. Undoubtedly, they were pleasantly surprised to witness Inner Wave, who performed psychedelic evolving rock songs like “Why’d You Have To Act Like Those Thoughts.” After performing five songs, the audience quickly grew from a small group into a crowd. One new fan said that she couldn’t believe the kind of music emerging from the band, as not many Latinos were involved in that particular musical genre. The boys said they were surprised to see so many Latinos in Wisconsin, more than they had imagined possible. “We felt at home,” they said.
Los Sebastianes Facebook moments
The 18-member Regional Mexican platinum-album band, Banda los Sebastianes, came straight out of Mazatlan, Sinaloa, to gain momentum during their performance at Los Dells. The band sang their iconic songs “En Eso Quedamos” and “A Través Del Vaso” with passion, romanticism and joy on stage. Singing a cover of Vicente Fernandez’s “Volver, Volver, ”one of the vocalists, Armando Celis, asked the entire audience to smile and take a photo with him. He aimed to post the picture to Facebook so he could get the audience to connect with Chicano culture, an important step in his career, so his gratitude toward the attendees was evident.
Lunay: Rising Star
At only 18 years, promising reggaeton star Lunay left a lasting impression with his performance in Los Dells, as part of his tour of the United States in the coming days, in cities including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Charlotte, Chicago and Tampa. The teenager got all the single women dancing. He confessed his gratitude for being there and stressed that his success was due to his godfather, Daddy Yankee, and musical influences Bad Bunny, Anuel, Remix Zone, Nicky Jam and his favorite artist, Ozuna.
Up and coming
A big surprise came in the form of cutting-edge, up-and-coming artists. The Mexico City band, Clubz joined forces with the Monterrey singer Girl Ultra for their tour of the United States. After their successful launch of “Texturas” and “Epocas,” Clubz has been merging electro-pop, R & B, funk and rock rhythms, among others. On the other hand, the R&B diva, Girl Ultra, mentioned that participating in the festival felt like being in a movie.
NY-based, Colombian duo Salt Cathedral also impressed. Their name is literally inspired by the Zipaquirá salt cathedral in Colombia. The duo hypnotized the audience with their peculiar musical productions influenced by Colombian tropical sounds, and electro-pop spirituality, laced with cosmological vision.