Music and art festivals have become ubiquitous staples of the summer season, taking over neighborhoods and sometimes whole towns to provide fun and stylish spaces for people to see their favorite artists, while also making new discoveries possible for attendees intrigued enough to show up early. Festivals can help stimulate local economies and often spotlight artists and businesses within their communities, especially those who develop a distinct identity that attracts fans to travel for the unique experiences they offer. These festivals are crucial vehicles for booking artists that may otherwise be unaffordable for promoters, whether it’s expensive, big-name acts or buzzy but distant indie artists with costly travel expenses.
These days we’re living in a crowded festival landscape, where many raise concerns of sustainability. Though complaints include conflicting schedules, repetitive line-ups, and a limited public budget, most are glad to see proliferation of cultural events within their communities, especially when many of these highlight developing scenes. Over the last few years, U.S. producers seem to have realized there’s a well-established community of Latino music fans. Rock en español and Latin alternative fests have popped up around the country like heads on a hydra, with notable examples including Ruido Fest in Chicago, Supersónico in Los Angeles, and SXSW’s ramping up of their SXAmericas program, which aims to connect Latinxs from all over the continent including Canada and the U.S., as well as musicians from Spain.
Though many of the year’s main festivals have already passed, the summer is far from over. We’ve put together a list of fests coming soon to a city near you. If you’re not local, we highly recommend you consider traveling for them. The summer is young and so are we, so hydrate, pack some sunscreen, and go scream your head off at the nearest stage.
Truly one of the gems of U.S. indie music, Viva! Pomona is entering its sixth year. Founded and still run by René Contreras, the festival was born as a response to Californians who looked down on Pomona as a boring or lame city, and with a strong mission statement of inclusiveness for people of color. This year is no different, as the line-up boasts a bounty of exciting Latinx artists. The chingonas from Chulita Vinyl Club will be holding it down for the hardcore vinyl heads, Mexico City’s Sotomayor will make Pomona rumble with their psychedelic jungle cumbia, and Queens’ own Juan Wauters will entrance audiences with his hypnotic folk pop. Other must-see artists on the bill include Cuco, Tall Juan, Captain Planet, and Policías y Ladrones. As usual, Viva! Pomona will be hosted at the iconic Glass House on August 5 and 6, with plenty of sideshows around town running up to the festival.
New York City will always shine as a beacon of diversity and unexpected wonders, and Brasil Summerfest fits squarely within that description. Every summer since 2011, the week-long festival has taken over the city with shows, talks, and film screenings held at venues across the boroughs. This year, the big Summerstage show that will leave everyone talking belongs to Elza Soares, Liniker e os Caramelows and Teleseen, happening on August 5. Eighty-one-year-old Soares has a storied career and is touring in support of her recent critically acclaimed album A Mulher Do Fim Do Mundo, whilst Liniker and her band of extraordinary musicians will blast Central Park with the unbridled beauty of their funky soul. New York-based Forro in the Dark will bring their effusive party jams to the Brooklyn Public Library on August 9, and pop singer Aline Muniz will have a solo show at Joe’s Pub on August 10. A documentary film called Tropicalia, examining the inception and impact of Brazil’s iconic protest genre, will screen at The New School on August 7, and a biopic on the life of Brazilian funk and soul godfather Tim Maia will play at the Museum of the Moving Image on August 11. And to close things out with a bang, make sure to hit the Hester Street Fair on August 13 for a block party complete with the best of Brazilian food, music, and vendors.
Brasil Summerfest runs August 5-13 in New York City. For the full calendar of events, click here.
Ruido Fest may have gone down just two weeks ago, but for Chicagoans, it takes more than one festival to quench their cultural thirst for the season. Enter the sixth edition of Pilsen Arts & Music Festival, which brings an array of live music, theatre, spoken word, visual arts, and cuisine to the heart of Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. This year’s event kicks off with the unveiling of Pilsen Family Encounter, a photography project developed in conjunction with the National Museum of Mexican Art, and will also feature new works by famed muralist Maestro Hector Duarte. On the musical end, organizers are bringing in Grammy award-winning Boricua singer-songwriter Ile, Mexican goth rockers Rey Pila, and icons Nina Sky to get attendees fired up. They’ve also left plenty of room for underground talent to shine with Toronto-based Mexican-Canadian duo LOLAA showcasing their shimmery glamorous synth pop, as well as featuring emerging local acts like Avantist, Black Bear Rodeo, and Cordoba.
Pilsen Fest takes place August 18–20. For more info, click here.
Monterrey has a rich and proud musical tradition, and has given us iconic festivals like Pal’ Norte and the first incarnations of Festival Nrmal before its Mexico City relocation. But Hellow Festival is different, bringing a healthy mix of indie and mainstream to the northern city, and booking acts that feel equally fresh and relevant. Now in its 10th year, the festival takes place at Monterrey’s famous Parque Fundidora, the repurposed grounds left behind after the city’s steel foundry went bankrupt in 1986. Going off on August 26 and 27, Hellow will be headlined by LCD Soundsystem and Kendrick Lamar, marking the rapper’s first appearance in Mexico. Though obviously not the only major festival in Mexico to feature Latinx talent, Hellow has made a point of addressing the marginal treatment and lack of promotion regularly given to these artists. As a solution, the festival has set up the New Latin American Sounds Stage with acts like Helado Negro, Girl Ultra, Jesse Baez, and Bia slated to perform. Hellow will also feature an EDM village and an Indie Tent.
Hellow Festival takes place August 26 and 27. To purchase tickets, click here.
The artistic juggernaut that is NRMAL continues to expand in Mexico’s music scene, this time with the first edition of NRMAL BAJA, taking place in Rosarito, Baja California, on September 9. The indie cognoscenti may recognize NRMAL Baja as a sort of reincarnation of All My Friends Festival, which closed its doors after six years back in 2015. A sister event to the parent company’s Festival NRMAL, the BAJA edition promises a cute beach turn up. The line-up includes U.S. indie acts like Jessy Lanza and Holy Wave, names already familiar to NRMAL audiences like Colombian electronic power duo Mitú, and Tijuana shoegazers Mint Field, all while leaving plenty of room for intriguing young acts to make a splash. LA-based Chicano balladeer Cuco will get the crowd swooning with his gloomy yet hypnotic songs about love and heartbreak, and Buenos Aires NAAFI member Tayhana will rile up the crowd from behind the decks.
NRMAL Baja goes down September 9 in Rosarito, Baja California. To purchase tickets, click here.
Bodega Island Festival
One of the quirkiest and freshest music festivals in New York City, Bodega Island elbowed its way onto the Brooklyn scene in the summer of 2015. Starting out as a small net label founded by Lael Llaverías and inspired by Brooklyn punk and DIY, the festival showcases Caribbean artists putting new spins on traditional island sounds. Billing itself as “the biggest & dopest indie, merengue, alt, bachata, punk music festival in the world,” while admitting it is likely the only one, a look at the Bodega Island lineup is all you need to know they’re not kidding around. Bill toppers Maluca and Mula have built careers on their skillful reimagining of Dominican rhythms, while DJ/producer Happy Colors’ convulsive mix of EDM and Afro-Caribbean percussion will set the party ablaze deep into the night. The festival’s bounty of Dominican talent extends beyond only the turn-up friendly, with acts like Le Petit Pepinot bringing sweet indie folk to the foreground and Boom Box Repair Kit unleashing their lighthearted merengue-punk on the crowd. Bodega Island takes place at the Paper Box in East Williamsburg, and this is tigueraje you won’t want to miss.
Bodega Island Festival goes down on September 9. To purchase tickets, click here.
A Latin music festival in the woods? In Wisconsin? Your eyes do not deceive you. Billed as “the first multi-genre Latin music and arts festival in the Midwest,” Los Dells is a bold new venture bringing together some of the brightest stars in rock en español, reggaeton, and indie into largely uncharted territory. Los Dells will take place on September 2 and 3 at the Woodside Ranch, 10 miles north of the Wisconsin Dells. Their line-up casts a wide net to attract as diverse a crowd as possible. Maná leads the pack of rockeros alongside acts like Reik, and Kinky, but reggaeton will boast the biggest names on the bill with Nicky Jam, Daddy Yankee, and Wisin bringing all the perreo in the Caribbean to the Wisconsin campsite. Organizers have also thrown in a few curveballs, like indie crooner Gabriel Garzón-Montano, Ondatrópica mastermind Quantic, and norteño legends Los Tucanes de Tijuana, plus several acts still to be announced. Admittedly, many have been puzzled by the location of the festival, but considering the event is being held on campgrounds, organizers expect drive-in traffic from several nearby states. So pack a sleeping bag and head to the woods, because Los Dells is one for the ages.
Los Dells takes place September 2 and 3 at the Woodside Ranch in Wisconsin. To purchase tickets, click here.
Üateke Rock Fest
Brand new and right out of the oven, the first-ever Üateke Rock Fest will be hitting the road September 15–17. Like a Chicano Warped Tour, Üateke Rock Fest will bring some excellent rock en español acts to Atlanta, Charlotte, and Houston for a weekend of Southern decadence. The bill is packed with headliners like Mexican ska gods Panteón Rococó and Inspector, bluesy rockers El Haragán y Cía, rock fusion wizards Kinky, and electro cumbia power group Mexican Dubwiser. These five bands will be at the core of the tour kicking off in Atlanta, though in Charlotte they’ll be joined by campy horror rockers Víctimas del Dr. Cerebro and Tijuana electronica icons Nortec Collective. The biggest blowout is planned for Houston, where all the aforementioned bands will be playing, in addition to Venezuelan ska band Desorden Público and Panama punks Rabanes. Perhaps what is most exciting about Üateke Rock Fest is the fact it’s bringing the current wave of Latin music festivals to cities with large pockets of diverse Latinx communities that don’t always make it onto tour schedules. We hope this trend only continues to grow.
Üateke Rock Fest goes down September 15-17. Purchase tickets here.