Posted: 4:31 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014
By By Nancy Flores
Keeping your ears open is often the best strategy when navigating a festival like Pachanga. You are always led to new discoveries that expand your musical horizons.
So with the sun shining brilliantly, and oddly almost no evidence of the previous night’s scary stormy weather, Saturday at Pachanga showcased a nice mix of emerging and established artists.
“There’s so much good music (throughout) the park,” said Pachanga founder Rich Garza. “We just want to create something special for the community and bring people together. Today has been great.”
Some Pachanga highlights include:
Most Pleasant Surprise: Y La Orkesta
Though Tucson’s nine-piece big band group has rolled through Austin before, I hadn’t seen a live show yet. Y La Orkesta wholeheartedly threw themselves into their performance and the result was one of the festival’s best shows. Decked out in all-white suits (with the exception of a phenomenal female mambo dancer and vocalist), Y La Orkesta brings class in both style and music. The show featured awe-inspiring musician solos of instruments from trumpet to clarinet. At one point, Steve Berlin of Los Lobos jumped on stage as a special guest on the bari sax. And who can forget the charisma of maracas player and vocalist Salvador Duran. His stomp box skills and haunting deep voice were showstoppers.
Most adorable moment: Los Rakas
We knew this Panamanian hip-hop duo had Bay area swagger, but we didn’t realize they also appreciate even their tiniest fans. The bilingual MCs spotted a shy little girl with a Rakas T-shirt in the audience. Her family came from Dallas, and the guys were so touched that they brought her up on stage to dance with them. She held her hand over her mouth in awe of the crowd. But eventually she waved one hand in the air as the crowd cheered her on and gave Raka Rich a bashful hug.
Los Rakas’ brought a Caribbean groove to their reggae-infused beats and told the audience that if they didn’t speak Spanish what they needed was not Rosetta Stone, but their music.
Odds are you’ve never seen anything like Los Master Plus. The Guadalajara-based mustached duo has fun with the Mexican regional music stereotype and wears colorful banda shirts with fringe and piping. Los Master Plus showcases their sense of humor with Spanish-language covers of English-language songs. They create comical lyrics to cover songs by artists such as Gwen Stefani, Dr. Dre and Joan Jett.
Surprise Instrument: Como Las Movies
The ipad accordion made an appearance in a performance by Como Las Movies, a new Austin band featuring former members of the indie en español band Maneja Beto. Como Las Movies blended cumbia with a psychedelic twist and also had a real accordion in the mix.
Most Bittersweet Moment:
American-Statesman’s Deborah Sengupta tweeted: “Adrian Quesada is leaving Grupo Fantasma to pursue his other (brilliant) side projects #bittersweet” Good luck, Adrian!
Best Show Finale: Los Lobos
What better way to close the festival than with Chicano rock masters, Los Lobos, performing an extended version of La Bamba. The song everyone was waiting for came in the show’s encore.
Earlier during their performance they treated the Pachanga crowd to special guests such as Mexican American country artist Rick Treviño who sang a tribute to the late George Jones. And energizing the audience was an uber talented young musician from Amsterdam who joined Los Lobos (and Flaco Jimenez earlier) for a couple of songs showing off not only mad skills, but a sensibility to the brown sound.