Festival Nrmal 2012, Part Three

by Conejito Colvin

Technically, the party started on Friday at San Pedro Garza's characteristic Gomez Bar, long known as being the unofficial headquarters for the Nrmal crew, and the de facto spot for countless after parties. After creating a prequel of our own with D.D.A (that's ADD for all you English speaking folk) at the Novotel, the peeps and I followed the caravan to the pre(pre?)-party. Sometime after the second red light we lost sight of the van we were following. With limited credit in our pre-paid Mexican cellphones, we attempted to call a friend for directions. Forty-minutes and several flimsy indications later, we finally came upon the elusive house. The party was already bumping by the time we arrived, as Lao (of 401.mx fame) presided over the dance floor with a selection of the bassiest of the bass—reppin’ for Finesse records, no less. Supermad, the boy-girl ACIEEED FUNK duo, followed suit with a performance that defied all expectations and subsequent categorizations. Pictureplane busted out a retromanic fest of '90s rave hits, which brought back more than one awkward flashback of neon clothing and glow sticks. *shudders* Milkman followed up with a number of bewildering stage antics, but was swiftly ushered down to make way for the true star of the night, none other than Erick Rincón of do-I-even-need-to-remind-you fame. Three cocktails and one limbo pole later, and we were battered beyond repair.

But on to the actual festival...

We arrived somewhat late to the proceedings, sadly, missing out on performances by DDA and Araabmuzik. The latter’s unfortunate schedule must’ve been a blundering oversight, since I doubt anyone can stomach that kind of bass just after noon. Alas, we carried on to the Panamerika stage where the spaced-out garage noise of San Pedro El Cortez effectively gave way to the festival proper. Go Tijuana! But seriously, regional biases aside, San Pedro’s out-of-left-field stage antics shocked most of us at the tiny tent, whose audience included the likes of Davila 666 and the aforementioned DDA. It took a while before we found anything we liked on the program, so we made our way to the Novotel once again to seek out one Raka Rich (interview coming soon!). After a lengthy exchange, we made our way back to Diego Rivera park, where the distant chants of Prince Rama could be heard in the distance. Shortly thereafter, the motley throng of mipsters (yeah, I used that word again) gradually made its way to the main stage as an ostensibly awkward Canadian by the name of Grimes was setting up for her performance. She alerted us that due to half her equipment being lost at the airport, her set would be a—and I’m quoting here—“shitfest.” Damn those Mexican airlines! But yeah, we were warned, and the ensuing sounds were underwhelming, to say the least. The crowd cheered her on regardless.

We then made our way to the tiniest stage, yet again, where the schedule had been considerably set back. I guess 25-minute sets sound better on paper. After lurking around while waiting for Sonido San Francisco to emerge, our appetites got the better of us and we made our way back to the food courts. I suffered a minor stroke after ingesting some regio spicy wings (seriously, it was like being stabbed in the tounge!) and took a moment to recover. We rushed back to the Panamerika stage where Sonido had already concluded their set. Thank God for the audience’s insistence on an encore, which spurred the neo-cumbia outfit to finish off their performance with their floor-breaking number, “Sonidero Total!!!”

Photos by Luisa Luisa Martinez

So, the next lines will come as no surprise to any Club Fonograma reader. Alex Anwandter kicked the shit out of every other performance at the festival. (Well, okay, a certain TJ duo gave the Chilean a run for his money, but we’ll get to it soon enough). Where to begin? Was it the awe-inspiring fervor of Anwandter performing “Tatuaje” live? The uncanny storm that unfurled just moments after “Tormenta”? Perhaps it was the cadré of admirers that showered him with embraces as he descended upon the crowd? Or maybe the...okay, you get it. Too many moments. (I didn’t even mention his glimmering silver shirt.)

And, yeah, the mandatory mention of that other Chilean artist, whose name I dare not speak, especially after Andrew Casillas’ zealous rebuttal of Enrique Coyotzi’s lukewarm assessment. What can I say? It was just SOO big, so important. Almost in diametrical opposition to the immediacy of Anwandter’s performance—not to mention intimacy—Javiera Mena’s performance just felt too removed from the audience. And just what was that dude from She’s a Tease doing up there, exactly? (I didn’t manage to hear a peep coming out of him.)

After those moments, everything went by in a(n energy) flash. Ñaka Ñaka tripped us out, Maloso made us shout, and P18 Live Machine made our posterior muscles ache. Booty shaking aside, the crowd singing along to “Hijos de José” was among the highlights of the festival’s rave-ier moments. Meanwhile, in a moment of not-so-quiet introspection, Mock The Zuma and his newly found MC, Josué Josué, gave much to talk about, as the budding rapper floored us with his rendition of the new Mexican vernacular.

Now, on to the other highlight of the night. Tony Gallardo II can indisputably be called the best showman of the festival. In his typically charismatic fashion, he made the crowd laugh and dance, all the while opening up the stage to groupies and Chilean pop stars alike. Oh, and the dude from Sonido San Francisco was also there. With DJ Nombre Apellido (of Los Macuanos pseudo-fame) as his interim sidekick, Tony had the entire audience eating out of his swa(n)g-laden hand. Just as his set came to a draw, the audience clamored for more party, and he made sure not to disappoint his ardent cult following, by treating us to a hit from that other project of his. “Rey de Reyes,” though strictly “playback” as he called it, was but the cherry on top of an epochal performance.

Had the day's events not been replete with talent, I may have taken in much more. Alas, quantity and quality were not mutually exclusive at the festival. Such was the intensity, that I couldn’t even make my way to the after-party where I was set to perform. But be warned Monterrey, I will be back.