Outside Lands 2012: Where the Latinos at?

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In previous years, Outside Lands Music Festival, in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, included some of the biggest names of the Latin Alternative scene in their line up. Manu Chao, Café Tacvba, Nortec Collective, Los Amigos Invisibles, Aterciopelados, Os Mutantes, Kinky, Julieta Venegas, Ana Tijoux, Rodrigo & Gabriela, Mexican Institute of Sound, and Ximena Sariñana have all been featured in an usually diverse and balanced line-up.

2012’s edition, however, had Colombia’s Bomba Estéreo as the only artist singing en español. There was also a noticeable lack of hip-hop acts on this year’s lineup, but we’re not gonna get into that. I’m not saying this was a conscious conspiracy in favor of whitey, but yeah, at moments it kinda felt like that.

So, with Bomba Estéreo as the only act of explicit Latino interest, I had plenty of time to kill during the rest of the three-day festival, and I set out on a where’s-waldo kinda mission, in search of the concealed Latinos hiding in the fog.

El Perdedor

Beck singing the chorus of “Loser” was the only Spanish heard through the Polo Field’s sound system during the festival’s whole first day.


Antibalas‘ founder Martín Perna complained about the San Francisco’s famously cold summers: “This music we are playing is tropical music, it’s not meant to be played in this weather.”


Global bass DJ Jef Stott incorporates to his mixes a lot of international flavor, including some moombahton rhythms that worked out great in combination with middle eastern percussion.

The Funkiest Italian Brother

Jovanotti spotted a Mexican fan in the crowd wearing the tricolor soccer jersey. “What country is that T-shirt?” he asked in English with a strong Italian accent. After the guy responded, Jovanotti commented, “You guys are good in diving, you won a couple of medals,” and after a reflective pause he added, “United States is imperialistic, takes all the medals. Please, leave some for the rest!” Minutes later, he was diving into the crowd singing “L’Ombelico Del Mondo” with a classic Brazilian batucada beat provided by his Afro-Brazilian drummer who he calls “Meia Noite” (midnight).

Mucho Afrolicious

San Francisco-based Señor Oz brought some tropical heat to the dance floor at the DJ’s dome on Sunday early afternoon, starting a set with some moombahton, to soon move into cumbia house and end in his characteristic groovy Afro-disco.


Pretty much 99% of all the Latinos encountered in the crowd on Saturday were there to see Metallica. Chicano bassist Robert Trujillo (neé Roberto Agustín Miguel Santiago Samuel Trujillo Veracruz) was the only Latino on the festival’s main stage.

Borderline Latinos

Is it too much of a stretch to count Malian husband-wife duo Amadou & Mariam in simply because they had an album produced by Manu Chao?

La Comida

Ok, not too much Latin flavor in the music, but a lot of it in the food menu. Outside Lands is well known for it’s high quality culinary options (in comparison to the average music festival overpriced pizza slices and hotdogs). This year the menu included empanadas, choripanes, gorditas, huaraches, arepas, alfajores and more.

The Traveling Gringo

Nunca faltan gringos sporting t-shirts with inside jokes that only us and other gringos who’ve been to South America could get.

Bomba Estéreo

Colombia in the house! Li Saumet, sexy as usual, fronting the band that scored the biggest ñu-cumbia crossover hit in history with “Fuego” and now has the challenge of keeping the fire on with an upcoming follow up album, Elegancia Tropical, (no release date yet) minus big label support. I asked her backstage about her Argentine boyfriend, “ex-boyfriend” she interrupted and then added laughing “I don’t like Argentine men anymore.” Me: sad face. “Damn, I’m always too late.”