Ruido Fest 2015: Festival Report

 "¿Que me dura la tecnologia?" - Silverio

 by Zé García Puga
Images by Daniela Galindo, Giovanni Guillén, Zé Garcia-Puga, & Souad Martin-Saoudi

Day 1 

The Club Fonograma experience began on Thursday, July 9th. Me and Georgie (the bae) picked up a sleep deprived Maria y José (Tony) from Midway Airport (we were an hour late but Tony is chill). We drove to Pilsen, ate a Polish dog at Maxwell's, met up with Souad, and got some Gansito ice cream on 18th Street at Las Maravillas. We were about to check out the Mexican Museum of Fine Arts but Fancy reminded us that Erykah Badu was in town. We cruised on over to Downtown Chicago, my friend Mikey (aka 99 ¢) played us his new footwork tracks. Lawn tickets were free as part of the otherwise cringe worthy Taste of Chicago: we arrived just in time, and at just the right place. We created a Temporary Autonomous Zone (we reclaimed a section of the public park that had been barricaded) and encouraged others to join what we referred to as “Freedom Side.” People were reluctant but soon they jumped the barricade and danced “inside” with us. We smoked, we drank, we had the best view of Erykah on the jumbotron, hitting her sound machine with her long golden nails, dressed like a space ostrich. The entire park was full of Black Chicagoans singing and dancing: a beautiful thing was underway in juxtaposition to the usual (soulless) corporate domination that takes place in the Loop. Erykah did less of the weird masterpiece of New Amerykah Part 1 (except for "Me") and  played her hits from back in the day. She also made a funny joke about Chicago Police that had us all going and snickering. Seeing the Priestess of Neo Soul was an excellent way to begin the musical proceedings of the weekend and Tony said it was the best performance he has ever seen. Tony also played us his new single on the ride home: the sunny bachata track "Boy De La Costa". Club Fonograma will have the exclusive premiere soon.

A photo posted by @_badgaldani on 

The actual day of Ruido Fest we arrived about an hour before Maria y José’s performance. Dënver was hanging out by their trailer, I said hi to them and they were sweet. Their excellent drummer, Nicolas Ramirez (formerly of Planeta No, currently with Prehistoricos) was also super cool. Maria y José was the second performer, I joined him onstage and danced around like a ruidosón b-boy, teaching the kids how to properly mask up using just a t-shirt. Maria y José ended his performance by jumping into the crowd, singing a Los Saicos cover. I made my way to the Mil Mascaras stage for Chicago “rock stars” via the Dominican Republic, La Armada, who recently returned from a whirlwind, multi-city tour. La Armada actually plays “Latin Hardcore” metal, but their stage presence is one fit for stadiums. They interrupted their exhilarating set for a few words on Ayotzinapa (Mexican-Dominican solidarity!) delivered by local community elder, Rafa. They brought onstage a banner with the faces of all the desaparecidos, and people shouted “¡fue el estado!” An adorable rockero couple, both in their 50s and dressed in Ayotzinapa solidarity t-shirts, looked so excited to be there. They made me smile.

I missed Ceci Bastida (who I heard also pulled a minor “political” stunt), caught some of Compass: MIS + Toy Selectah, which was the only act to have an Afro Latina singing on stage, and made my way onto Santo stage to meet up with the suave Giovanni Guillén and his bae Daniela Galindo for Dënver. Dënver was nearly impeccable, disco pop precision at its most poetic. Pop stars are what we saw that evening, without question the best performance of the night. They made us nostalgic with the heart wrenching “En Medio De Una Fiesta,” Mariana sounded like Fey on the hi-nrg tinged live version of “Miedo A Toparme Contigo”, their choreography sleighed on “Los Vampiros” (we had a beer with Mariana right before the performance, she explained the severity of her leg injury, took her cast off, & put on the black platform shoes she danced in that evening), “Noche Profunda” felt momentous, and they debuted an exuberant new disco track off Sangrecita, "En El Fondo Del Barro". After the performance Mariana told me which pop star is indicative of the sound of her (currently in the works) debut album: Lorde. Expect a more r&b disco sound for Mariana's solo project & keep checking back for our full interview with Dënver. My night ended in a tent behind Pantanotepec (an anarchist squat in La Villita) with Mars, Casie, and Cootie smoking a Swisher Sweet, watching the sun rise.

A photo posted by @_badgaldani on

Day 2

A photo posted by Santo Peregrino (@elsantoperegrino) on

Jessy Bulbo is simply the coolest. Her style, her sing-song DF accent, her good vibes. She connected with the audience in a way that no performer had thus far. It felt great seeing all my Brown folk moshing: kids, 20 somethings, parents! Every song had the crowd going, the more reckless audience members dancing forcefully (I was among them!), going around in a circle, jumping up and down, fully enthralled in Jessy’s vivacious antics. She kept fanning the flames, too. "¡Otra niña para esa mesa!" she called out from the stage, referencing "El Za Za Za",  letting the rowdies know she was feeling their energy. It was super cool to see Brown girls of all shapes and sizes crowd surf, too: probably their first time, and they did it to Mexico's nonpareil punk feminist. Believe the hype: Jessy Bulbo is Mexico City's premiere riot grrrrrl but she’s also a shape shifter. She did the cumbia salsera “Alma Traviesa”, the merengue “Cuando Rie” and encouraged the girls to touch their “papaya” to the punky "Sexo Sin Amor." Jessy also came back for an encore, took her bra off (Jessy is fond of baring her breasts) threw the bra into the crowd (a girl caught it!), and challenged many of the misogynist cat calls coming from gross men in the audience.

Absolutely nothing could have prepared us for Silverio, the best performance at this year’s Ruido Fest, and among the best “performances” I have ever seen on stage. “¡Aborigenes!” Silverio shouted demonically from the stage, introducing himself as our "Imperial Master". I was kind of worried at this point, but Silverio kept deconstructing power dynamics in a poignant, hilarious, and grotesque manner. His performance was met with horror, uncomfortable enjoyment, or absolute disgust. Perhaps about 1/3rd of the original audience left: audibly angry, appalled. Silverio engaged the machista elements of the crowd (you know, the ones who heckle homophobic shit like “culero” and “puto” or shout gross things at womn performers), and made their insecurities the psychological stage where this disturbing performance took place. See Silverio does one thing really well: he humiliates and challenges the “culero, puto” crowd and verbally dominates them from on stage. His screams are like that of a prison guard, the “discipline” he delivers reminiscent of a dad undergoing multiple mental neuroses. All the while he is stripping from his red, glittery bell bottom pants,  getting down to just a thong. How many bros were secretly sexually aroused by this nearly naked middle aged man sporting a 70s toupee who had total command over their most barbaric impulses? The more violent the crowd became, Silverio only became stronger, funnier, and perhaps just a bit frustrated. Indeed Silverio was struck by multiple glass bottles, and dodged dozens more, throughout his set. “Pinche Indio, por qué no aprendez hablar Italiano?” he joked at one point, yelling at the sector of the audience where most of the bottles emanated from, illustrating anti-indigenous sentiments uttered throughout Latin America, in his absurdist and shocking demeanor. Techno, reggaetón, ruido emanated from his sound equipment that night, feeding the dance fervor that was the soundtrack to that night’s mishaps. "Gracias por el aplauso que esta mierda no es gratis" Silverio screamed at one point, the audience laughed. Towards the end of the set he asked the crowd: "¿asi es como se divierten en este puto rancho?" Silverio then began forcefully punching his sound machine, intermittently shutting off the music, looping uncomfortable sequences of his songs and taunting the crowd, “¡a ver como bailan esta!” He had us moshing, dancing, laughing, crowd surfing, jumping to el baile de los perros, all until he body slammed the table holding all of his sound equipment.

A video posted by Santo Peregrino (@jong_goat) on

The rage Silverio felt that night was probably real. I went up to the stage to inspect the damage of Silverio's Akai MPC 2000XL. I grabbed the beer he left on stage and took it back to him- an icebreaker I figured. “Hey, did you want to finish your beer?” I handed it to him, he looked at me perplexed and annoyed. “I am a journalist from Club Fonograma and I wanted to interview you.” Before I could finish, Silverio began laughing hysterically and threw most of the beer in my face. His entourage was shocked, as was I. But I was also thrilled: I knew I had just experienced depravity, brilliance. Something truly seditious was/is happening to the tidy world of pop we inhabit. Silverio threw the drink in my face, put his arm around me and said “I like you” and began telling me and some of my best friends the most disturbing and personal details of his life. Some details I will have to leave out for Silverio’s security, but know that he is on the Mexican Federal Government’s radar. His grandmother is an Argentinian Fascist (pro genocide would be putting it nicely, he says) who along with his grandpa tried killing Silverio’s parents who are leftist guerrillas who fled Argentina to Mexico. Silverio grew up in Guerrero, and I really wish I could disclose many more details about our interview. He introduced me to Jessy Bulbo (they are really good friends, Jessy called him “lo maximo”) and we all hung out under the tent behind Demon Stage. Silverio took a liking to me (perhaps feeling like throwing beer in my face might have been too much), asking me at one point to go pee near the bushes with him. We urinated side by side, he explained how the term “aborigenes” is meant to acknowledge indigeneity, rather than its colloquial understanding as an insult. Hanging out with Jessy and Silverio felt pretty momentous: Mexico’s rock star insurrectionaries doing their thing in Xicago. Also chilling backstage with us was Maria Daniela Y Su Sonido Lasser. She chain smoked cigarettes and kept wanting to talk about Mexican politics. And even though me and Maria Daniela have very different world views, her insistence on the subject made me like her just a bit more. She apparently has new music in the works, too. Her performance Sunday was better attended than I expected, lots of Brown muscle bros getting down, teenage girls singing along to every word of "Pobre Estupida". I danced to the Daniela Romo cover of "Mentiras", and the Click cover of "Duri Duri". I can't believe its almost 10 years since 2007's Juventud En Extasis

Maria Daniela y su Sonido Lasser
Day 3

By day 3 I was pretty loopy. I DJed the night before for a Black & Brown Punk Show fundraiser in Pilsen, and slept maybe 4 hours that night. I caught Porter (who’s new singer also sounds like an angel). Porter brought out the Purupecha flag and exalted “this flag is our strength!” Astro played another great show, super professional, sounded great. Astro, like many performers out there trying to make it, played it safe. I couldn't help but wonder: What Would Silverio Do? I danced with (local radical mother extraordinaire) Lisa's  daughter to Triángulo de Amor Bizarro, a personal highlight. Most people in the audience were not sure how to move to TAB's noise pop, but our girl was dancing and moving all crazy to the music.  Kali Uchis looked super cute onstage but was somehow the only female hip-hop / r&b artist invited to Ruido Fest. Unfortunately, her music did not translate well to a live audience- her DJ looked  bored, merely selecting tracks and glaring at the audience, expressionless. Concurrently, Los Rakas were delighting the Mil Mascaras stage. Among the only Afro Latino acts invited to perform Ruido Fest, they had the crowd going: “Africana, Africana, this song right here is dedicated to my mothers!” I ended the night watching Cafe Tacuba who, like Astro, sounded great, professional, safe. During their encore, a drunk Mexican man and his friends tried taking down the VIP fence and (hilariously) ran and dodged security. A nearby witness began shouting, "¡Silverio, Silverio!" to the tune of "¡culero, culero!". The spirit of Silverio, lives!

A photo posted by Santo Peregrino (@jong_goat) on

AJ Davila y Terror Amor

Triángulo de Amor Bizarro
Kali Uchis
Los Rakas & Souad Martin-Saoudi
No one music article is going to dismantle the anti-blackness that can exist in “Latin” identity. Latin@ is not our autonym but rather a title placed upon us by the European colonial-settler project unfolding across the “Americas.” Latinidad can often obfuscate our indigenous and or our African ancestry: white European domination over our identities can continue, to our collective detriment. Ruido Fest launched itself as a “Latino alternative” music festival. Unsurprisingly, Black people were systematically excluded as performers and concert goers, even though the African diaspora created the backbone of our beloved “Latin music". Indeed Ruido Fest (which advertised itself as taking place in Pilsen, a Mexican neighborhood, notoriously chic, gentrifying quickly) actually took place in an exclusively Black neighborhood- a small parcel of land understood as The Village. We don’t mean to say the organizers of Ruido Fest had bad intentions. This would make a scape goat out of a collective responsibility to challenge (or discard and reinvent) our “Latin" identity in favor of something that can truly begin to tell our full stories, our full heritage, our identities as people who are much more than descendants of White Europeans. With that said, Ruido Fest, a mega festival, was graced with some excellent talent albeit of the super light skinned variety. We had first hand knowledge that Ruido Fest was in talks with Quemasucabeza this year: Diosque, Ases Falsos, Gepe, and Fakuta would have been great additions. We would be lying if we didn't admit to being excited about the doors being opened for more of our Club Fonograma darlings to tour Xicago and across the region. I heard Astro's new single playing on Vocalo the other day. Besides the weird pop I used to play on Radio Arte 5 years ago, I never thought I would be listening to music I love on the airwaves. But here we are in 2015 and our music suena en la radio. Our cult favorites are playing shows here. Hopefully "Latin@" identity can continue challenging itself, too. I know we are supposed to be Y.L.P. right now but who knows, maybe one day we will discard the "Latin" exonym altogether. I woke up feeling like this, today: Young, Brown, & Proud.

Daniela Galindo & Giovanni Guillen