Meet ¡Eso Es!: Your New Favorite Traveling Latinx Music Fest
By Luis Linan
It is no secret that it is tough sledding for Latinx artists and bands to get slots at US music festivals. While promoters of large festivals are steadily becoming more inclusive in their booking, change is still not happening as fast as it should be. Answering the call are small and mid-size promoters who are booking festivals that are Latinx dominant, if not exclusive, Chicago’s Ruido Fest, LA’s Tropicalia, NYC’s Afro Latino Fest, and El Paso’s Neon Desert are notable examples of this approach.
In the heart of Texas the team at Margin Walker, who put on Sound on Sound and in a previous incarnation Fun Fun Fun Fest, are throwing a “Big Ass Fiesta” with some of the best Latinx artists from Texas and the US on tap to perform. The four city “roadshow” style festival will feature 1-day engagments over Labor Day weekend. iEso Es! looks to be a celebration of the vibrant culture of the Latinx community as a whole. Organizers are also committed to supporting the Latinx community beyond just Central and North Texas, having just announced that all proceeds from this festival will benefit the El Paso Community Foundation to support families after the white nationalist mass shooting earlier this month. We’ll certainly be there and hope you will be too, here’s our preview of the amazing talent that will be on display.
The artist tapped to headline the inaugural iEso Es! is Texas’ own Alan Palomo aka Neon Indian. Palomo was born in Monterrey, Mexico before immigrating to San Antonio as a child and later moving to Denton for college. It was during his time at University of North Texas that Palomo’s Neon Indian moniker began generating internet buzz. His first two albums 2010’s Psychic Chasms and 2011’s Era Extraña, for better or worse, were inextricably linked with the “chillwave” movement happening at the time. However, seemingly determined to outlive his chillwave contemporaries on Neon Indian’s third LP VEGA Intl Night School, Palomo showed a willingness to reimagine and incorporate elements of 70’s disco and 80’s new wave while still remaining true to the essence of the project. Since the album’s release and subsequent tour, Palomo has turned his creative energy towards film, both in the scoring booth and the director’s chair. But after 4 years away Neon Indian appears poised for a return as iEso Es! will be the springboard into an extensive fall tour, giving reasons to speculate and hope the 4th album is not far behind and if so, new music could be performed at these shows.
Providing direct support on the tour will be the dream-pop artist, Empress Of. The project of Hounduran-American singer-songwriter, Lorely Rodriguez, is coming off the release of her sophomore record Us last year. As the title suggests Us is a significantly more collaborative effort than her debut record Me, which she wrote and produced entirely herself. Featuring contributions from friends Dev Hynes and DJDS, Rodriguez made a conscientious effort to have Us be less emotionally isolating while simultaneously celebrating friendship and the people in her life. While the outlook between the two records may have changed, her ear for catchy vocal hooks and funky synth leads has certainly not.
La Goony Chonga
Bringing the Hip-Hop on the bill will be Miami’s La Goony Chonga. The Cuban-American MC’s music can’t be mistaken for anything except Latin rap but she crafts her sound through the lens of trap, miami bass, and electronic inspirations rather than reggaeton. The result is tracks featuring thumping bass triplets and chopped up hi hats on top of which Chonga’s syrupy drawl of a flow glides through. Her third LP, last year’s Dinero, is La Goony Chonga’s first album rapped in Spanish, following two albums in English. On Dinero she sounds perfectly within her elements and ready to stake her place in the burgeoning Latin rap scene.
Bidi Bidi Banda
Though Texas was at a time it’s own republic, it has never had a monarchy. However, if it did, there is little doubt who would be crowned La Reina. Next March marks 25 years since the tragic death of Selena Quintanilla, yet her music and influence continues to connect with a whole new generation of Latinxs thanks to all star tribute acts like Austin’s Bidi Bidi Banda. To perform the music of such a highly influential and regarded artist is not a task lightly taken, and Bidi Bidi Banda approaches it with the appropriate mixture of celebration and reverence for the late Tejano icon.
Rounding out the bill is Dallas alt- R&B outfit Luna Luna. The quintet released their debut EP, For Lovers Only, last year and have continued with a string of singles this year. The group has grown into a downtempo sound of slick synths and shimmering guitars with soulful crooning on top. The group is a prime example of the blossoming crop of Latinx artists in Texas, which iEso Es! is simultaneously celebrating and giving a platform to inspire the next group Latinxs to go out and start their own band.
Special Local Guests
Providing beats in between sets and making sure the party does not stop will be local DJ collectives at each stop. Houston’s Bombón DJs; Dallas’ Faded DeeJays, Austin’s Peligrósa DJs, and San Antonio’s XANAXFANCLUB and LZRCAT.
¡Eso Es! Tour Dates:
August 29 Houston at White Oak Music Hall
August 30 Dallas at Canton Hall
August 31 Austin at Mohawk
September 1 San Antonio at Paper Tiger