A few days have passed and the music is still flowing through my being. Memories of performances from the weekend dance about and blend together as if I were mixing records:
Camilo Lara and Toy Selectah's "Te Andan Buscando" starts things off then makes way for Master Blaster Soundsytem's "Borrale", which opens up some space for Bumbac Joe and his accompanying congo player. The disco-funk that DJ Afro kicks bounces its way into the mix while Dellarge jumps in for a tag-team set. Then the record scratches and pause..."Tanto trabajo. No me relajo." It's Mariel, reminding me I've much work to do - no time for rest. So I focus - but soon enough she's back, only this time with friends. It's Mexican Dubwiser, El Licenciado, Myron Glasper, and El Gavachillo. She unabashedly breaks my concentration with a special version of Mex Dub's "So Attractive" as El Licenciado's accordion-bursts highlight that which cannot be denied...she's a pint-sized dynamo that attracts. At this point, my vision quest has me swinging, then - I get sprayed by Silverio as "Perro" vulgarly stumbles its way into the mix. Only, the spray wasn't beer and there wasn't a dog around. It was the cat, Pacal, sneezing in my face. I laugh it off as Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" tenderly steps in after Silverio's antics. The bewilderment lasts 1/8 of a beat as I recall that maybe José Luis Pardo and Los Crema Paraiso might have been foreshadowing his Imperial Lord's debauchery which would take place later that evening. The tempo has slowed down in my mind just enough for my childhood defining band, Chicano Batman, to delicately enter with "La Samoana"..."El otro día la vi en el apartamento. El otro día la vi me puse menso..." It's just the right bit of nostalgia to ignite visions of the first Latin Alternative band I discovered 16 years ago: Ozomatli. The mental mix closes with Bardo Martinez of Chicano Batman accompanying Ozo as they conclude their booming set. I feel whole; I feel complete.
And that was just thru Day 2.
The lead up to Ruido was anxious. We were all infused with excitement of a slightly different quality because we all understood how important this festival was. Not only for the tremendous fan base in Chicago, but for the artists as well. Those that have built amazing careers that span decades got to connect with Chicago in a way never felt in this city - in this genre - up until this past weekend. And likewise, the lesser known artists were able to use the same forum to express and communicate their musical visions to us Chicagoans, again - in a way never felt in this city - in this genre - up until this past weekend. The Ruido planners deserve a heap of praise for what they pulled off. Of course, glitches will arise - and they did. But, they were all handled with quickness. And the crowd was amazing, too. Just crazy and funny enough without going overboard.
Here are some things I noticed:
Day 2 saw a performance that I couldn't find any mention of - and it was rather alarming considering who and what was going on. If I missed any Ruido pieces on José Luis Pardo and his new project, Los Crema Pariaso, please float them my way. Pardo is a beast. Both on the production side and on stage. I found him during my second Latin Alt discovery wave that brought Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra (I might have to argue for this one), and a groovy sextet named Los Amigos Invisibles. Los Amigos immediately hooked me. They hooked me almost as much as Ozomatli did back when this love affair all started. I began talking about them as much as I did Ozo. As a matter of fact, it was because I brought up Ozo that these guys were recommended to me. It was that mixture of house, disco, and funk that I was intimately familiar with because I spin deep, funky, disco house on wax. It was perfect timing as Pardo's guitar blew my mind. His speed and precision became something I was always sure to point out to fellow enthusiasts. Now, Pardo has a hand in a few new projects that have been on my radar for a bit. He's worked with Rawayana (who I hope we get to see at next year's Ruido), and has formed a new trio, Los Crema Paraiso: A group of seasoned players from different backgrounds who want to bring that diversity into the music they grew up with. This is incredibly challenging considering the added complexity they then fold into the mix. There is a lot going on in their music and they pulled it off brilliantly on Saturday. They also have a slightly reworked vision of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World". And, Pardo kicked off Day 2 with some house beats as DJ Afro before dawning his guitar with Crema. I can't express how talented Pardo is.
Mariel Mariel not only made a strong impression on Chicagoans, she had all the artists infatuated, too. She was everywhere. Maybe this was planned; I can't say for sure. But it looks like there's some subtext here and it reads: "Coming out party." Mexican Dubwiser had her on for "So Attractive". She appeared with Kinky that night at Cobra Lounge. Then she popped up again the next day for Ruido's closing performance when she was invited onstage by Rubén Albarrán and Café Tacvba.
Keep an eye out for Mariel Mariel.
Marcelo Tijerina (Mex Dub) also attracts. One of the reasons I dig Mexican Dubwiser so much is because he actively looks to cultivate relationships with a diverse range of artists while showcasing their unique, possibly overlooked, super-power talents. It was no different when he took the stage with South Central dancer and vocalist, Myron Glasper. I was curious if Rocky Dawuni would make the trip and knew that El Licenciado was sure to be there considering Kinky was to take the Demon Stage the following day. It was just as bumpin' as I expected it to be, that is, until the excitement was turned up a notch when El Gavachillo (Wil-Dog of Ozomatli) jumped on stage. We already talked about Mariel's appearance and, well...that's just what you get at a Mexican Dubwiser show. Also, he ditched the black tie for a black blazer with the red button-down shirt. I mean, we all know this was a special occasion...but was there something more?
Coming out party?
I'm going to continue threading this idea - this "coming out party" - this, graduation of sorts. I wrote in an earlier blog post about Chicano Batman and how I felt like they define my childhood. Above, I mentioned how Ozomatli was my introduction to Latin Alternative. For years, I've been saying that Ozomatli defines my life. A week before I left my hometown of San Jose for San Diego, Ozo was playing in Santa Cruz. I went to the show. Within a month of my arrival they played San Diego's Street Scene. I went to the show. The weekend I left San Diego for Seattle, they were playing at the Belly Up. I didn't go...just kidding. I went to the show. And of course, shortly after my arrival in Seattle...you get the picture. Not only did Ozo champion all the same cultural and socio-political values as I, we seemed to be coincidentally moving around with each other. All this played into the idea that Ozo defines my life. I may or may not have cried 3 or 4 times during Ruido, but I will say that seeing Chicano Batman for the first time got me misty; and that when Ozo invited Bardo Martinez out at the end and I realized I was witnessing elements from both my childhood defining band - and my life defining band together on stage, it was over. Too powerful, the emotion was; I couldn't hold back any tears whatsoever. I was a joyful mess because I also realized that, yup...you guessed it: Chicano Batman got a coming out party, too.
I need more arepas in my life.
Seeing Nortec Collective and Kinky back to back was something I never imagined I'd witness in my life. They were part of my first wave of discovery with Ozo. Getting elements of Norteña like tuba and accordion over an electronic backbone has always been attractive, and one of the coolest things is to see Ulises Lozano nonchalantly glide to the front of the stage while slurring accordion cords in the middle of a Kinky frenzy.
Los Rakas have a tight, all around operation. They've got a diverse expression and a strong, yet easy-going stage presence. They're approachable and the music is supported by their "Raka Rules" philosophy - and, an apparel line. It's a strong apparel game, especially when they pair it with Oaklandish.
I see you Oaklandish.
The local talent of ¡Esso!, Dos Santos: Anti-beat Orquesta, and Bumbac Joe showed how diverse and savvy our city's artists are when it comes to their craft. We have access to quality, Latin Alternative groups in Chicago where other cities may not. ¡Esso! opens for Bomba Estereo July 26th and Dos Santos just took off on tour thru the Southwest. We have powerhouses that represent the Chicago sound and now...we have Ruido Fest. Latin Alternative in Chicago has just entered the international arena, and we can't wait to see what spouts from all the unique and amazing seeds that were planted over the weekend...like this one by Los Aguas Aguas.