Last week I told you about a two-week adventure I’d just embarked on, traveling from Monterrey, Mexico’s Festival NRMAL to McAllen, TX’s Galax Z Fair and then SXSW in Austin. Festival NRMAL wrapped up on Sunday evening, and the whole experience was very surreal.
NRMAL’s main event was an all-day outdoor festival with four stages on
Saturday, with over 50 bands from around the world, though they were mostly from Mexico and the United States. Headliners included Ariel Pink, Sky Ferreira, Brujeria, Banda de Turistas, and more; three smaller stages hosted dozens of shorter sets by more underground bands. Leading up to main event, NRMAL curated a series of nightly showcases at locations around Monterrey. Some were at a warehouse called 111999555, which I heard was modeled after Brooklyn’s 285 Kent. One was in the enormous backyard of a mansion in the mountains, surrounded by a panoramic view of the city all lit up. The most compelling part of this week, though, was in the way this festival facilitated legitimate music discovery and cultural exchange between those who traveled from all over the world to be there. I learned about and met dozens of artists, fans, and folks involved in the music world from Mexico, Latin America, and beyond who I would have never been exposed to without a festival like this. Here’s a snapshot of some of the artists who soundtracked it.
SELMA OXOR // Originally from Monterrey, Selma Oxor's fuck-it-all stage presence was hypnotic, her songs experimenting with cheeky punk riffs and dark dance beats. She played at a showcase curated by Vale Vergas Discos, one of the Mexican underground most essential current labels.
SOLEDAD // Soledad are a post-punk two-piece from Mexico City. They also played the Vale Vergas showcase, and it was one of the best sets I saw all week. I only picked up one record while in Mexico and it was Soledad's.
AVE NEGRA // A garage-punk duo from Costa Rica who I met early in the week at one of the showcases. Ave Negra played an early set on one of the smaller stages but I wouldn't be surprised if they were playing to bigger crowds at future fests. They reminded me of a Spanish-singing Jeff the Brotherhood.
SAN PEDRO EL CORTEZ // San Pedro el Cortez traveled to Monterrey from Tijuana. They played the
main stage of the festival on Saturday and made it feel like a
late-night basement show at a punk house. At one point the singer threw
his guitar soaring through the air at the crowd. At the end of the set
he mooned everyone.
LAS ARDILLAS // Five-piece rowdy punk rock from San Juan, Puerto Rico, with one of the
most insane live shows I can recall in recent memory. Features members
of Davilla 666. I caught them at SXSW last year but their set at NRMAL
was the most epic ending to this festival. They played the last show of
the week at a pool party in the backyard of a mansion in the mountains,
which only served to further magnify their recklessness. Definitely
recommend catching them at SXSW.