Pajaritos may be home now, but we’re not through with sharing their travels abroad in Mexico City just yet! After the jump, the Pico Picante hosts and DJ duo take us through the streets of Mexico City before a show and show us how to eat a quesadilla for breakfast.
Spinning And Ending
Whether it’s actually Day 6 of our journey – or maybe Day 12 or 17 – our lives are by now so immersed in Mexico City that our internal clocks have been scrambled. Hanging out in mezcal bars after hours hasn’t helped our recollection. After so many afternoons and nights of inadvertent partying, we do recall at least this: it’s the weekend again!
We celebrate with a fistful of mango from the market, which has been the site of many a quesadilla and tostada breakfast. We celebrate with a little of that, too.
Ernesto as Eater. We apologize that our tour diary has not placed enough focus on close-ups of food.
Down the road from the market, an old-fashioned photography studio is expertly churning out passport pics and wedding portraits for people in the neighborhood. Their darkroom is in the bathroom, and their re-touching department is a man hunched over strips of film with a tiny blade in hand. We can’t possibly resist commissioning a portrait.
Our long-awaited show at Salón Bombay is tonight, so we pack our conspicuous backpacks full of gear and head into town.
Brief Note from Ernesto: In this city, as my mother insists, you always need to be careful whose cab you get into. But sometimes that risk has its rewards. Some time ago, I had a cab driver who was using a false identity with the last name “Malagón.” This ended up being the “inspiration” for my DJ Malagón alias.
A stolen name stolen twice.
We’ve been to Plaza Garibaldi before, but never the neighborhood just north of it, where a pedestrian had better be a local if they plan to walk there alone. Of course, we walk there alone, backpacks and all. Salón Bombay is past a handful of raucous cantinas. The club normally features hip-hop acts, as indicated by the bold “Hip Hop” T-shirts in the gift shop.
Tonight, however, the night kicks off with Bonzai Killer, followed by Los Sultanes Descalzos. The latter is a “raging polka band … recovering norteño sound and post-modern cumbia while tapping into ska roots.” Then our friends Polka Madre drive the audience into a frenzy, leaving us to close the night.
The following evening brings our second in Mexico City at Foro Hilvana, a cultural space in the Condesa neighborhood. We have the opportunity to play between the sets of some incredible bands. After stuffing ourselves with pozole and quesadillas – our last dinner in the city – we wander back across the street to meet Aníbal Pacheco and Mac Andaluz, the organizers of the event.
Aníbal, a cultural event organizer and a selector, is also member of the Rebel Sounds collective. Now in its fifth year, the collective of musicians and activists claims members from Mexico, Chile, Spain, Brazil, Colombia and Canada, connected through the group’s blog that promotes música mestiza, or “mestizo music.” As a selector, he attempts to showcase the cosmopolitan world in which he lives, and to share messages of “resistance, dignity and equality” through the music he chooses. As an event organizer, he brings together bands and DJs from around the world to create genre-hopping bills at places like Foro Hilvana, which is among a few venues in the city that are open to this kind of programming.
In parallel to Rebel Sounds, all of the members of the collective have independent projects such as labels, releases and event series, in which they support each other, albeit sometimes from a significant distance. Exemplary of the community is the digital label Latino Resiste, the project of Colombian producer Caballo and DJ Mundo. The label releases free compilations with the mission of promoting music from specific regions that are often underrepresented – for example, the Pacific coast of Colombia – to promote “the voice of those who don’t have a voice.”
Aníbal explains the meaning of his event series’ slogan “Somos Todos Mestizos” (“We Are All Mestizos”) in the context of his community-building events.
Aztral Folk from Tucson, Arizona, opens the night at Hilvana. They blend folkloric Mexican music with the likes of gypsy jazz, twisted further by the singer Kiri’s guttural vocals.
Aztral Folk at Foro Hilvana.
Genre-hopping band Umano Aché of Northern Mexico heat up the room with their agile mix of salsa, funk, cumbia and hip-hop.
Umano Aché at Foro Hilvana.
Sonido San Francisco, usually performing as a synth-cumbia quartet, closes out the night with a DJ set. Their 2010 hit “El Género Romántico” merged Mexico’s idiosyncratic humor with the Colombian pop music aesthetics. We grab a quick interview with the frontman, Sebastián Cárdenas, who is Colombian-born but has lived in Mexico City for some time now. He speaks to us about building a music scene by embracing the city’s collective music history, “recontextualizing the nostalgic music of our parents, grandparents and ancestors.”
Sebastián describes his belief in the value of Mexican producers turning kitsch music inside out.
Sonido San Francisco DJ set at Foro Hilvana.
Our journey ends all too soon with a ride to the airport at six in the morning, but our senses have been thoroughly awakened by our experiences in Mexico City.
We’re lucky to have met so many like-minded people involved in music and culture through a variety of practices. Now our imperative is to bring that inspiration to the events we organize in Boston, including Picó Picante and its related programming. It’s important, too, to sustain this curiosity that has led us down these unexpected paths, and brought us to experiment with how our voices fit within this greater story.
México, ¡te adoramos!
“México, Lindo y Querido” performed by Jorge Negrete. The chorus declares, “My beautiful and beloved Mexico. Should I die far from you, let them say I’m merely asleep, and let them bring me back to you.”