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Tropicália 2019, L.A.’s Multi-Generational Latin American Mixtape Brought to Life

4:13 PM PST on November 12, 2019

[dropcap size=big]H[/dropcap]ow do you explain the Latin American experience in Los Angeles? That’s a complex question, but we are sure it would look, sound, and feel a little something like this year’s Tropicália festival.

Over two days, the Fairplex in Pomona hosted Goldenvoice’s newest musical endeavor, which brought to life a mixtape that encapsulated the past, present, and future of Latin American music and brought multiple generations of Latinos and others together for a truly inclusive weekend of fun.

There were plenty of moments that encapsulated that feeling. There was the young lady who called her parents on FaceTime so that they could watch Peruvian romance balladeers Los Pasteles Verdes together. There were the two comadres who made their way to the front of the stage for Los Tigres Del Norte and held each other as they sang, screamed, and cried to every song alongside girls young enough to be their granddaughters. There were the young goths who patiently waited for Prayers’ set by singing along with Paquita La Del Barrio who performed before their favorite duo did on the same stage. There were the Asian and African-American kids moshing together with the Latinos in more pits than I could count. There were the young gabachas who swooned at Kali Uchis’ every movement.

There was also space shared between some of these originators with their next of kin. Rock & Ska legends Inspector and Panteón Rococó were there to share the torch with bands such as Raskahuele and The Red Store Bums who arrived on the scene after Inspector, et al.

All credit due to the curators responsible for successfully creating this weekend of cross-cultural and intergenerational fun. It was clear that the vibe for each day was deliberately chosen and carefully curated.

Saturday, for example, played out like the greatest hits of classic songs by artists that every Latino parent still pumps through their speakers at every house party to this day. Cumbia icons La Sonora Dinamita had only 30 minutes in the mid-afternoon heat, but it was more than enough for them to cycle through hit after hit. Shoutout to the dude in his 30s who guided his father through the crowd, cane and all, to get a closer look at one of his favorite artists. The old man may have needed assistance walking but it was obvious he still had a few dance moves in him.

Cue the same for romantic Pop groups such as Grupo Yndio, Los Pasteles Verdes, Los Solitarios, Los Terricolas, and Los Freddy’s.

There was also space shared between some of these originators with their next of kin. Rock & Ska legends Inspector and Panteón Rococó were there to share the torch with bands such as Raskahuele and The Red Store Bums who arrived on the scene after Inspector, et al.

One of the highlights of the night was the combination of Enanitos Verdes sharing the stage, quite literally, with Hombres G. The groups played live with each other and performed songs from their respective catalogs together during a two-hour-long set. It was, essentially, a supergroup switching between its shared repository of hits.

Meanwhile, Caifanes and Los Tigres Del Norte flexed their veteranos status as long-time players in the game with solid sets of hits that left no one disappointed.

Sunday

Sunday was a completely different story. Where Saturday was a day for everyone, their mom, AND their grandmom to sing and dance together, Sunday was mostly reserved for Generation Z. Anyone who’s ever attended the smaller Viva Pomona festival would feel right at home as Day 2 of Tropicália felt like a larger version of that festival: a mix of Latino and non-Latino artists, the majority of them up-and-comers and rising stars, with a few big names sprinkled in.

I’d like to give a special shoutout to the DJs in Toyota’s tent for keeping the spirit of Day 1 alive all day on Sunday. It proved to be a huge hit with everyone who still felt the vibes from the previous day. I hope the company’s insurance includes damages from people dancing on the hoods and roofs of their display vehicles.

The night ended with Colombian elec-tropical heroes Bomba Estéreo playing past the midnight curfew, thereby prompting the sound team to cut their mics off. The percussionist continued to slap his drums while vocalist Li Saumet tossed roses out into the audience. 

There were strong “sad boi” (as fellow Taco staffer Mariah Castañeda described it) vibes through much of the day thanks to the new wave of bedroom dream-pop and Gen Z souldies (Zouldies??) artists such as Katzú Oso, The Red Pears, Inner Wave, Bane’s World, The Undercover Dream Lovers, No Vacation, Boy Pablo, and many others. 

However, there are two contenders for the sad boi crown and, folks, it’s pretty close! Cuco may have the upper hand but Omar Apollo is no slouch either. The former appeared on the main stage to a sea of screeching women matched only by those of the latter.

Apollo, decked out in some futuristic red camo, displayed a commanding stage presence where he buoyed from full-on funk to pop diva to sad boi crooner with ease. Cuco later matched those sad boi vibes with a newfound confidence as he matched his recent skyrocket rise to fame with a fearless stage presence that belies his age.

The night ended with Colombian elec-tropical heroes Bomba Estéreo playing past the midnight curfew, thereby prompting the sound team to cut their mics off. The percussionist continued to slap his drums while vocalist Li Saumet tossed roses out into the audience. 

It was an appropriate send-off for Tropicália because aquí estamos y no nos vamos.

Full disclosure: L.A. Taco curated the taco selection at Tropicalia this year.

Photos by Erwin Recinos and Rosaria Recinos.

Tropa Magica took to the L.A. TACO stage, underdogs in the East L.A. music scene.

Davila 666 also took to the L.A. TACO stage and performed for the crowd. It's been 5 years since their last album release.

The rest of the photos are by Ivan Fernandez.

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