That is no foreign adventures. Because your Tijuana Adventure host has been having a blast in the city by himself.
It might be the cold, it might be that the end of the year is approaching, but no one has contacted me for an adventure in November. Despite putting flyers all over North and South Park (San Diego), no one wanted to go to All My Friends Music Festival. But it is all for the best, since I ended up working as a writer instead of a tour guide.
San Diego Reader published my review of the music festival, but they cut it short. I wrote way more than what they published. For my words not go to waste, here’s a full review of the adventure that no one wanted to join:
All My Friends Music Fest
The FYF of TJ
3 different stages, 32 bands, 8 food stands, 6 different clothing stores and much more, TJ’s music festival garners the popularity that FYF did in its early years. The point of AMF is to showcase the best of underground music and they booked the right bands, but not the right audio engineers. The 4th edition of the festival brought more people than the previous year as AMF gets established as one of the most important music festivals in Tijuana. For those who missed it, there’s always next year, which should be even better.
The first band on the entrance stage, Bonebreaker, started at 2:00 pm to a small crowd of around 20 people, no bones were broken though people were bound to be hurt by the poor choice of the engineers to put the stage on top of some stairs. The engineers worried about the stage looking nice and they did not think of the people or the music. Calafia Puta, a powerviolence band from TJ, played next. Their energetic and destructive sound took the engineers by surprise as the crowd started the violent mosh pit. You simply do not put a stage on top of the stairs and give hardcore bands three monitors for their show. The engineers made the poor choice of cutting the power to the microphone, which enraged the crowd and the lead singer who started destroying everything on his path.
By 5:00 pm, all three stages were going on at the same time. The inside theater stage had electronic experimental musicians, the patio had hip-hop and danceable music, while the entrance stage continued with hardcore rock on the awkward steps. With too much to see, I quickly went from stage to stage to absorb it all and tell you which ones were the very best.
White Ninja, a band from Monterrey playing on the patio attracted the largest crowd with their experimental psych-electro. Their sound is fresh, with sick bass lines with a fat tone, electronic beats accompanied by a drummer and a keyboard player that sings in beautiful falsetto a la James Brown. Melodic, yet dissonant, simple beats with complex breaks, White Ninja kept everyone on their feet dancing non-stop.
Apocalipsis was the closer band at midnight. It was the only band that had people standing up inside the theater. Their instrumental metal was ruined by the poor technicians who could not balance out the three piece band. Nonetheless, the tasty heavy riffs, the sick drumming and the tension building to perfect breaks kept everyone’s attention. By the end of their set, a chubby dressed up preppy kid took the mic to make an announcement. However, they kept playing and to everyone’s surprise, the kid was the screaming singer for their newer songs.
Anthony Negrete, a Jewish ghostwriter and rapper from Moreno Valley that goes by the name of Speak!, flows about hooking up with girls all over the world via Skype. Imagined if Eric Cartman grew up to be an awesome rapper with a “whatevah, I do what I want,” attitude. He was hilarious, dirty and raw. The crowd was loving him and he reciprocated the love back.
Closing your eyes and listening to Rancho Shampoo gives you the feeling that you are in the desert tripping on peyote with a shaman. The solo artist dresses like an Apache Indian, plays a wooden flute and sings like he is evoking the gods to make it rain. Accompanied with La Indian Gold Orchestra, the show was pure magic.
ACxDC, short for Antichrist Demoncore, finished the work that Calafia Puta started by destroying the stage situated on the steps. To make it even more fun and dangerous, people started crowd-surfing. They melted faces with speedy riffs and power shouting. Again, the engineers were not prepared for the chaos that the band unleashed.
More reviews in order…
Trillones is an electronic artist who’s gimmick is to give you plastic glasses that expand light. The hipster dude with glasses stood behind his macbook, a Korg keyboard and a nice telecaster. He gathered only a small crowd and was only missing a Starbucks coffee cup to make his look complete. His music was so spaced out that it relaxed your muscles making you feel like you took some oxycodone.
Teenage Kicks aren’t teens. They are old school punks that still think this is 1990. Equipped with a jazz bass beat up a la Jaco, a beautiful Jaguar Fender and decent enough drumming, the singer shouts old school style instead of the energetic shouts/growls you hear now a days.
Letters from Readers sounds like they would be an Indie band with a chick singer and acoustic guitars. However, they are two guys with glasses making electronic noise with their macbooks and other goodies. It took around five minutes for the first beat to drop after five minutes of intro noise. Rancho Shampoo made a guest appearance in the empty stage and some idiot in the crowd yelled “take the stupid Indian off-stage,” not knowing he was insulting a great shaman.
Calafia Puta only played two songs when the engineers decided it would be a good idea to cut off the microphone. Enraged, they kept playing as the singer and the crowd sang A capella to the fast shifting chords and heavy drumming. Then the engineers decided it was a smart thing to cut off the power for the guitar and bass amps which just fed everyone’s anger. Destruction entailed afterwards, broken microphones, power strips and more.
Deep Magic was glitch noise avant-garde non-sense. The audio engineers were in fault again as the artists did not feel comfortable with what they were given and could not entice the small crowd. So the two electronic artists that shared stage simple made noise until their time was up.
Biocrisis took the stage on the steps and after the chaos of Calafia Puta, the crowd stood their ground on the bottom of the steps. Once again the audio was all messed up as the bass overpowered both guitars with a boomy tone that was not fitting to their metalcore. Halfway through, the band started to sound more leveled, but the crowd was tame just listening from afar.
DJ Smurphy is neither a DJ or a smurf. She’s a girl with short hair dressed up in clothes that shout “I love doing LSD.” I expected horrible, it was actually pretty damn good. Psych-electric beats with vocals in English mixed with digidelay and other effects. Her sound has much maturing to do.
Celofan is a local post-rock band with melodic vocals that say nothing. The type of music that is better enjoyed when you are in a long drive, not on a stage of an experimental music festival.
Selma Oxor is one of those artists who think that by simply wearing sexy clothes and touching herself on stage she’s doing the most mind blowing things in history. But is just poor and sloppy. She stepped on her loop pedal by accident several times and her loops were just of her moaning. When she grabbed her pink Squier guitar you could tell she never practices or cares about the sound. Once the shock value of the sexy girl wearing a one piece see-thru leotard wears off, there’s nothing to appreciate. Reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmy9CTn6xMs
Los Blenders, a surf punk band from Mexico City had the crowd dancing with their sick bass lines, sloppy guitar playing and lazy vocals.
Sixties Guns, a good band from San Diego that failed to impress. The members are multi-instrumentalist but they failed to captivate the crowd with the electronic beats and the lack of actual drumming.
Electric Healing Sound play songs in poorly spoken English and out of key. The drummer plays no bass drum, the bass player has repetitive bass lines and the rest is just “meh.” Not really electric, not really healing, barely even consider it sound.
Maria Minerva, to my disappointment, did not seem to be into the show. The crowd seemingly were just paying attention to the tall pale artist’s body and failed to sense her music. In return, she played a basic set with low energy.
Icy Demons, another band I was excited about, failed to impress. The stage on the steps finally got a barricade but that created an awkward sense of separation between musicians and their audience. They took the opportunity to practice their new songs in a sloppy fashion.
Sun Araw, an experimental electronic artist with a partner. Facing each other stage, Sun Araw had a keyboard and his guitar, his partner just electronic goodies. True bromance on stage, their sound was perfect. A duo that seems to be connected to each other’s brains like Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter (Daft Punk), Spencer Seim and Zach Hill (Hella) and Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel (Air).
Food: Veggie Smalls (vegan and vegetarian burgers), La Brownie Girl (all sorts of delicious brownies, vegan friendly), Pizza Fria (Calzones and pizza, vegan friendly), Blondie Brown (vegan hot dogs and meatball sandwiches), Santa Barriga (more vegan goodies). Convenient store, tacos and clamatos were also available.
Shops: Polen (screen printed shirts for Arts and Trees), Pesadillas and Dealer’s Brands (screen printing and thrift store clothes), Chicle & Bonita (lady fashion), Achemele & Octopus Clothes (screen printing), Circus (urban drama screen prints), Mexican Fashion (popular brand in TJ), Tourista Libre (TJ tours).
Alcohol was hosted by Indio beer, only other choice was Tecate Light. Beers went for $4 for two bottles (served in a plastic cup). Mixed drinks with either whisky, jagger, rum, vodka or mezcal were also available for the same price.
Bands that were missed or failed to gain my attention…
Matthew Sullivan, never even saw him on stage.
Josue Josue is experimental hip hop in Spanish that failed to get the attention of the crowd or myself.
Ramona actually sounded good, though the singer seemed to be to shy to be on stage. Local band that I rather see some other time.
Ford Proco, heard that they were awesome, did not have a chance to see them.
Lao played the last show on the patio, I took a look and saw only a couple people dancing to his Tribal music. Lesson learned, Tribal is gone and no one wants to hear it.
Ases Falsos was the pop rock that was much needed for those who went to a music festival and actually expected normal music. They had a large audience for their simple latin rock that reminiscences that of La Gusana Ciega, but from Chile.
Siete Catorce started slow, got better and he could have played for 5 hours straight. The type of electronic artist that keeps playing until you like him, but not adept for a music fest.
Ibi Ego, caught the beginning of their set and their last song. It had a bit of a dance feel like The Rapture, but with no churro to be enjoyed to listen to them, I went for Sun Araw instead. They had a big crowd, but the barricade also seemed to interrupt the flow of the music.
Geddes Gengras, caught the last song of this seemingly electronic artist genius. Never have I seen so many cables on a table connecting stuff that I had no idea what it was for. Minimalist digital glitch noise only enjoyed by those who have heard John Cage before.