Ruido Fest, Chicago’s only three-day Latin alternative festival, is finally back. Not only are huge headliners like Los Fabulosos Cadillacs and Maldita Vecindad slated to perform, but the underground talent is especially exciting this year, including sets from Helado Negro, Marineros, Mon Laferte, and many more coming in from all corners of the U.S. and Latin America. After a massively successful first run, festival organizers are doubling down on the event bringing in tons of sponsors and media coverage for what is likely to be one of the largest Latino-focused music festivals the Midwest has ever seen.
Interestingly enough, this year’s lineup features many local bands, a reassuring move that festival organizers have their finger on the community’s pulse. These bands are a great taste of the exciting and diverse scene emerging in Chicago, with artists playing venues like Double Door and Subterranean, and making names for themselves in Chicago’s ever expanding Latino communities. These bands know where they come from and know exactly where they are going, and are writing songs that reflect their experience as undocumented, bilingual, or merely othered citizens.
To give you a better idea of what’s currently going down in Chicago, we’ve compiled a list of five bands that you should definitely check out this weekend. As a bonus, be sure to stream our Before You Go playlist before you hit the pit this year.
Ruido Fest 2016 goes down July 8-10. For more information, click here.
Tracing its roots to Bogotá when Camilo Medina and Javier Forero met as kids, Divino Niño is a young band bringing bilingual bluesy psychedelia to the city’s indie scene. Divino Niño has a long history punctuated by perfect coincidences and peculiar influences. In an interview with The Life Project Chicago, the band’s founding members touch on the band’s trajectory from Bogotá to Miami to Chicago, as well as their fondness for David Bowie, Marvin Gaye, mambo, and the Peruvian garage rock scene. 2014’s Pool Jealousy was a brash and bluesy debut for the band, and The Shady Sexyfornia Tapes (released just this spring), is an album that builds on the tropical psychedelia tinges of their past work. Divino Niño has grown into a well-developed project, playing venues around town and securing a loyal following in the Windy City.
You Are Here
Formed in 2012 by Julian Jeronimo, Leo Prado, Rich Contreras, and Ivan Delgado, You Are Here is sure to be one of the more polished local bands hitting the stage at Ruido Fest. Describing themselves as “just four guys making noise,” the band is so much more, with a penchant for earnest songwriting and a knack for harmony they managed to showcase over their first series of EPs.
Last year, they released their eclectic debut Sonoro, an album packed with alt-rock, electronic experimentation, and loads of indie charm. This year alone has taken them to SXSW, as well as the Mole de Mayo festival, a major musical and culinary event held annually in Pilsen, the heart of Chicago’s Mexican community. In light of Chicago’s tightly knit Latino music scene, you can definitely expect these guys to have a crowd full of familiar faces looking back at them.
Rai are the rookies of this year’s Ruido Fest, tracing their genesis to spring 2015; shortly after, they released their debut EP Sin Color. What makes their appearance at Ruido Fest extra special is how they won their spot on the bill – they emerged victorious in a sponsored contest against fellow Chicagoans Los Gold Fires, Crudos Tribal,and Malafacha. Though this battle of the bands took place on social media, there is no doubt Rai is ready for the Ruido stage, thanks to their carefree, uptempo indie rock. The poppiness and accessibility of Rai’s bilingual songwriting captures so much of what young Latino musicians face in the industry these days: the struggle to keep an eye on mainstream music trends and stay true their Latinidad.
Playing psychedelic prog-metal from Chicago, Killer Moon stands on the shoulders of giants with powerful influences from Black Sabbath and The Doors. The Chicago trio composed of Jesse Garza (vocals/guitar), Amaris Aviles (bass), and Alex Santoyo (drums) will be bringing heavy acid rock-tinged jams to the Ruido stage for a show packed with power chords and head banging. Killer Moon have found themselves on the rise since their self-titled 2011 debut, and further pushed their sound with 2013’s Tunnel Vision. The band has built a loyal following by gigging locally and playing the festival circuit, most notably the Chicago Psych Fest. Killer Moon is an enjoyable heavy alternative to some of the festival’s more pop acts, so if you’re looking to go hard, this is the show to catch.
Los Vicios de Papá
This eight-piece band from Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood has been making waves for nearly 15 years, with their fusion of ska, cumbia, dancehall, and reggae. Known as one of the city’s first Latin ska bands, LVDP have blazed trails in a scene that has largely favored rock en español. Their vibrant and energetic music – coupled with lyrics commenting on undocumented issues and the immigrant struggle – has taken the band on tours of the U.S. and Mexico, playing stages among the likes of Calle 13, Maldita Vecindad, and Panteon Rococo.
Their 2013 album Fiesta y Lucha brought together all of their statements – turn up and political alike – for a collection of songs that are enjoyable as they are thought-provoking. Now with their sights set on the Ruido Fest stage, you can bet these local heroes will bring the socially conscious party to new heights.