2015 Pachanga! Latino Music Festival
Ximena Sariñana / Kinky / Motel / Mala Rodriguez/ Various Artists
Saturday, May 16th
The Pachanga Festival was one of the chillest, cleanest festivals held in Austin this year. Despite Austin’s torrential rainstorms and consistently cloudy skies this season, Saturday, May 16th was a sunny, breezy day.
Fiesta Garden’s adobe village aesthetic fit perfectly with the festival’s Spanish Rock theme. The park’s winding pathways and manicured greenery gave a sense of privacy and distance between the three stages. A thickening crowd was forming by early afternoon, but the park did not feel crammed. There were short lines at the vendors’ trucks, selling a variety of Latin foods from tacos to tortas to sopapillas. Beer was (shockingly) $5, unlike the typical markup of festivals (this reviewer saw $10 beer at Psychfest!). An abundance of Port-A-Potties and access to indoor restrooms kept lines to a minimum and festival-goer happiness to the max. Trashcans and recycling bins were placed every 10 feet throughout Festival Gardens. As a result, The Pachanga Festival looked pristine and felt comfortable.
The presence of major sponsors such as HEB, Whataburger, and metroPCS had a huge hand in making this festival succeed. Sponsors handed out freebies such as orange superhero masks and bags from Whataburger and lip balm from TxDot. Free Redbulls were offered as people exited the gate. The VIP area offered free popsicles and aqua fresco, and it seemed Pachanga Fest had a lot of VIPs.
The Pachanga Fest’s music selection was just as feel-good as the festival’s environment. Bright, energetic instrumentation, use of samples and DJs, strong female artists, cumbia beats, horn sections, and larger-than-life performances were common denominators of the day.
Compass Anti-Beat Orquesta fused psych-noise rock with cumbia beats to create a unique, sometimes jarring sound.
Ceci Bastida tore it up indie-rock style with backing bass, drums, trumpet, and samples from a DJ.
Mala Rodriguez, the leading representative of Spanish hip-hop, put on a high-energy performance. She oozed confidence and passion as she delivered her lyrics over the beats laid down by an accompanying DJ. Mala’s voice was rough, aggressive and strong, exemplifying the intense, tough femininity Mala’s career is built on. Between her bright, bombastic pop-rap pieces, she made sassy comments to her DJ and the audience.
Motel’s mainstage performance boasted seamless indie synth-pop. Their melodies and instrumentation sound familiar, hailing from similar styles as American pop music. Motel sounds much like a Spanish U2.
Kinky drew a crowd of dedicated fans before they had finished setting up. Their brand of rock and electronica had a unique twist for this performance: in lieu of their recently released MTV Unplugged album, KInky performed a stripped down acoustic set. Their drummer stood at his gigantic kit (his trademark stance). Acoustic guitar, ukelele, accordion and synth combined to create their warm, eclectic sound. Great energy and strong background vocals contributed to build an increasingly intense show.
Ximena Sarinana’s performance finished out the night. Her music is primarily pop, with spacious room for other instrumentation, vocals and dynamics. Her horn section (trumpet, trombone and saxophone) was utilized tactfully and sparingly. Bass notes boomed throughout Fiesta Gardens and vibrated in the soles of people’s feet. Sarinana was sizzling energy as she sang and danced. The performance was quickly paced, leaving no dead space between songs. Sarinana spoke to the audience a few times, met with roars of cheers each time. She wore surprisingly little make-up, a casual pony tail and jumper. The rest of her band wore all white. Her fierce presence completed the day’s theme of strong, passionate frontpeople.
The Pachanga Festival 2015 successfully celebrated Spanish music, art, culture and food. It was well-organized and well-attended: a clean, chill, delightful experience for all ages.
Contributing Writer: Merri Palmer
Contributing Photographer: Ismael Quintanilla (Maye Marley)