Carnaval de Bahidora took place for the second consecutive year at Las Estacas National Park in Morelos, just south of the charming city of Cuernavaca. It started early on February 17th and continued into the early morning hours of the the 18th. This year, the lineup included a personal favorite of mine and a terrific couple of guys, so I decided to follow my instincts, purchase a last minute flight to Mexico city and secure my way into this sold out, 5,000 person festival.
BOB MOSES (Scissor & Thread, NY)
Bob Moses is composed of Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance from Vancouver and they have steadily been gaining popularity for the past 2 years following a number of releases on New York’s well respected and sought after label, Scissor & Thread. Their records have been getting a well deserved recognition and consequently a lot of play by those who appreciate the deeper side of the spectrum. Tom Howie’s vocals and Jimmy Vallance’s vicious energy on stage at Carnaval de Bahidora were contagious and the delivery, spot on. I always love watching these guys perform. Currently working on new releases, we are sure to hear some magic coming out of this camp sometime soon.
BLUE HAWAII (Quebec, CA)
Blue Hawaii at Carnaval de Bahidora was for me one of the top 3 acts during the night hours. Hailing from Quebec, this duo creates music that could be listened to while you water your plants, or while you eat your late breakfast on Sunday afternoon. Music that is soothing, has a lot of depth and creates an atmosphere so peaceful, it could almost be heard while you do yoga. I do love relaxing to beautiful music but what I love more is being surprised by a band that sounds one way on their recordings, and a totally different way live. And I don’t mean they are loud and heavy but the energy levels, the tension, the atmosphere and depth are all there, intensified. This duo is magnificent and I feel very lucky to have seen them at Bahidora. If they ever come to Los Angeles, I will be the first to buy tickets.
BATHS (Los Angeles)
Baths is lead by Los Angeles’ native Will Wiesenfeld whose project Post-Foetus gave way to the new moniker characterized mostly by a combination between breakbeats and chillwave, relying heavily on loops and samples of a minimalistic nature. They develop a rhythm that keeps evolving throughout the set. Dance forward, yet sophisticated and well balanced, this duo of musicians got the whole place jumping from start to end. Very impressed with them at Carnaval de Bahidora.
BOMBA ESTEREO (Colombia)
Bomba Estereo is a band from Colombia and the undisputed kings of the “Champeta” genre which fuses afro-Colombian rhythms and what they call electro-tropical. Bomba is one of those groups of people that knew exactly how to incorporate their roots to the music they liked to party to with impeccable precision. The leaders are Simón Mejía and Li Saumet. Li is from the coastal region of Colombia and she’s characterized for being full of energy on and off the stage. A fiery beast from the beaches of the Caribbean that delivers a high dose of dopamine wherever she steps foot, including the breakthrough performance they delivered in front of millions at the FIFA World Cup 2010. They have since, been traveling the globe kidnapping everyone’s hips to the duration of their shows. Their bouncy tropical electronic fusion is accompanied by a live drum set played by Simon, that relentlessly attacks the senses and perfectly complements Li’s subversive energy. This was another surprise to me at Carnaval de Bahidora. Whenever I hear BOMBA in any title related to music, it immediately makes me think of Mumbaton, or however you spell it… Bomba Estereo is legit-they had me dancing with my 35lb. backpack on and camera on hand.
WILD BELLE (Chicago)
Wild Belle is a young band from Chicago whose sound is highly influenced by African rhythms, it touches on pop delicately but stays away from generic formulas and even ventures into reggae which all work quite perfectly on any late afternoon. Their time slot was welcoming their sound as the festival grounds filled rapidly before my eyes to a total of 5,000. The band is composed of siblings Natalie and Elliot who are joined by a full band that includes even a saxophone. Natalie Bergman has an incredible stage presence that is full of melancholy as if her heart had just been demolished by a past love. Her expressions and body language are indicative of the passion she feels on stage which translates to a very organic connection with the crowd. You just love her when you see her, and when you hear her voice, you love her even more. Their sound however, is upbeat and full of harmony and rhythm to dance to. A perfect welcome to the dimming natural light and the full moon rise.
AUTRE NE VEUT
I had no idea what to expect when I saw this guy walk on to the stage and announce to the whole viewership that his band of three would be a solo band because both his mates were stuck at a New York airport and could not join him at the festival. I had never heard of him before, and I still have a hard time (can’t at all) pronouncing his name today but this artist, and psychologist by trade, had the confidence of an orchestra. After talking to the crowd he proceeded with an acapella that lasted about 6 minutes and was clearly RnB infused. Then he went to his laptop and continued with his solo show without a mishap, smooth as butter. Although alternative pop in high definition is not my cup of tea, this guy was putting vast amounts of organic honey all over it and I couldn’t resist.
TOKIMONSTA (Los Angeles)
Other artists included CLASSIX (LIVE) and MATTHEW DEAR who were scheduled to play their set at 2:30am and 4:00am respectively. Unfortunately, it had been a very long day for me, I had no energy to continue and I had to figure my way back into town which became a 2 hour journey where I witnessed multiple accidents, heavy police activity and miraculously a little restaurant that served late. Until next time Mexico!
Tokimonsta is an artist from Los Angeles who I have never heard of. Naturally, she is not someone I would go hear play back home because her style resembles Dubstep which is not a genre I am too crazy about. She has a good stage presence and a large following but she looked a bit robotic behind her console, continuously messing with the knobs to no apparent effect. I think I went to grab a beer during her set so I only snapped some close-ups of her. Mmm beer.