Vive Latino 2013: Day 1 Recap

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Bands: Svper, Banda de Turistas, Los Punsetes, Francois Peglau, Los Auténticos Decadentes, Japandroids, Juan Cirerol, Porter, Bosnian Rainbows, Yeah Yeah Yeahs

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, people really like to make out at Vive Latino. But I digress. Vive Latino is in full swing and it’s great and we’re so happy and the Wi-Fi is terrible and the beer is big and it’s super foggy and so humid and we have a press tent and OMG Porter and OMG Juan Cirerol and just, O-M-G. Vive Latino never disappoints in terms of its lineup and even more so with its execution. We are lucky enough to be on the ground for what is one of its best lineups to date (the aforementioned Porter reuniting, Mars Volta/Le Butcherettes super group Bosnian Rainbows, Alex Anwandter, Gepe, Los Punsetes, just to name a choice few). And with a little help from the Anglo side (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Tame Impala, and Blur), this festival is kind of unrelenting on the goodness scale. BUT, let’s talk about the Friday festivities, because there were plenty to highlight, ranging from the Punsetes singer’s best attempt to never blink and some pretty intense Juan Cirerol devotion.


So it was payday in Mexico City yesterday and that meant a whole lot of traffic. People were just out there en masse turning their labor dollars into commodities to keep this crazy thing called capitalism alive and well. But enough about Marxism. Mexican payday meant it took us over an hour to get to Foro Sol. We arrived just as Svper, the artists formerly known as Pegasvs, kicked things off. The band legally changed their name on March 14th after finding out that Pegasvs was an already-registered name for another Spanish band from the ‘80s. This means that all of their Pegasvs-labeled Tumblrs, Twitters, Bandcamps, etc. are basically non-existent now. Bummer. But their set wasn’t a (total) bummer, just a difficult one to translate on a massive outdoor stage. Svper’s sound is equal parts sprawling and intimate, but if you’ve seen their video for “El Final de la Noche,” you know they work best when confined to small rooms. But I hope that with their new name comes, not a new identity, but a more assertive one on stage.


I have to say, I was pretty underwhelmed. Technically, they sounded great, very clean and high energy. But it’s hard to claim that Banda de Turistas ever had a particularly original sound. They just did the Brit -pop-new-wave thing well. They were boyish and charming. They had spunk. But they seem to have abandoned some of their new-wave tendencies and opted for a “harder” sound. It translated into ‘70s cock rock en espanol. And that’s rarely, if ever, a good thing.


I have to give all the credit in the world to Los Punsetes’ frontwoman Ariadna. She didn’t move once, a signature “move” for her. She came out on stage, planted herself in front of the mic, and just stood. She was an experiment in stillness, an experiment that couples well with her monotone voice. Carpa Danup tends to be the tent that houses bands/artists that are almost main-stage worthy (e.g. Japandroids), which is why it always feels like the best area of the festival. It’s secluded from the main area and the only one that has a tent big enough to contain the masses. You feel like you’re being hugged by stoked/sweaty Mexicans and that always feels great. The sound here can be iffy, but Los Punsetes sounded as clear as their blurted-out ‘90s style could sound. Not the best Punsetes set I’ve ever witnessed, but a solid one nonetheless. And if the crowd was any indication, they win.


Before running to Juan Cirerol, I caught the first two songs from Canadian post-pop/punk duo Japandroids, who had a hell of a workout on stage. They played “Adrenaline Nightshift” and “Younger Us” to an equally eager crowd, while bathed in yellow light, a color that’s appropriate to Japandroid’s brand of insistence. But the ultimate and unequivocal winner of the night was Sir Juan Cirerol. Before his set Juan told me that he likes to lie, a lot. He’s a man who acts on desire (he felt like he really needed to say the word “Dropbox” to me when we were saying goodbye), so during his set he arbitrarily yelled out a bevy of references like “Pop radio,” “Jack in the Box,” and “McDonalds.” He also seemed to be operating under a “say cabrón after every song” rule, a valid rule. His fans responded to his songs with “Esos son poemas, cabrón” and Juan proclaimed “Arriba los gays, cabrones!” This man is unyielding when on stage (note: he crawled off stage after a shredding finale) and so are his ardent fans. There’s a mutual devotion that’s lovely to witness during his shows. “Los quiero mucho, cabrones,” he yelled. And even though it’s hard to tell what’s a lie with him, there’s no doubt that this is a moment of beautiful honesty between artist and fans.


After Porter’s post-Coachella breakup in 2008, a lot of people felt they never reached their full potential. So when their “reunion” was announced as a main stage perf for this year’s Vive Latino, you could hear the joyful sobbing and imagine the communal embraces. They were back. We even had a new song, the cry-inducing “Kiosko,” to signal this return. But they’ve been tight lipped about recording a new album. So whether this show is a new beginning or a sense of closure for the band, they know they have an audience. Escenario Indio, the main stage, couldn’t quite contain all the excitement and emotion around this reunion. I saw a solo tear cascade down a girl’s cheek during “Vaquero Galáctico.” I saw people hugging and chanting. I saw Juan Son and company come out on stage wearing what looked like Cher’s closet castoffs, all glitter and cheek butterfly appliqués. I heard Juan Son channel The Cranberries mid Porter song and launch into “Dreams’” crescendo wailing. Juan Son in particular is always known for his theatrics (both in aesthetic and voice) and his voice finally felt like it matched the moment once “Hansel y Gretel’s Bollywood Story” came on. It took his voice a while to find its groove since he favors frailness into full yelp and at times it was too hushed, too ethereal. But he stepped up for the last three songs and asked the crowd to join him in his new-age hand wave. The fans obliged.


Sweet Jesus, Teri Gender Bender. You stole our heart. First when you came to our tent and along with your very lovely band mates gave us one of our favorite interviews ever. And then when you went all Siouxsie Sioux and the Banshees on us during the Bosnian Rainbows set at Escenario Unión Indio. Anyone who’s ever seen this woman perform with her band Le Butcherettes knows that she has phenomenal stage presence, a mix of morbid fascination, thoughtfulness, and empowerment. This super-group match is inspired, her voice coupling perfectly with Omar Rodríguez-López’s intricate guitar playing, the always experimentally rich drumming of Deantoni Parks, and fellow Butcherette Nicci Kasper’s psychedelia- wielding keys. We went from one badass female to another, as Yeah Yeah Yeahs started off their set with their new track “Sacrilege.” I haven’t seen that much joy on one stage in a long time. Karen O had a smile plastered to her face all set, Nick Zinner periodically picked up his own camera to film the crowd, and Serpico look-alike Brian Chase bounced with excitement on the drums. I’ve seen the Yeah Yeah Yeahs a few times and this is by far my favorite of their performances. And then bad sandwiches happened and too many nacho-flavored Doritos and not enough sleep and the illusion that we were going to go out and party and then we all fell asleep in each others’ arms instead. More to come tomorrow.