Latino Music's Many Styles Charge Austin's Pachanga Fest
Since 2008, the annual, family-friendly Pachanga Fest Latino Music Festival has showcased the vibrant blend of Latino-created music and art and its impact on American culture. That includes rock, alternative, Tejano, mariachi, cumbia, salsa, electronic, funk, hip-hop, and their many blends and mash-ups. A portion of the proceeds benefited FuturoFund, a collective effort to engage the Austin community through philanthropy and leadership.
My journey to this year's festival was long and wet. What normally takes a bit over two hours took almost four due to traffic and a string of strong thunderstorms that blew over Texas that day. The show was postponed for about an hour on Friday night due to the heavy rains, which made for an interesting and very fun dance party under the covered pavilion near the main stage as the show continued with a strong performance by DJ trio 3BallMTY.
DJs Sheeqo Beat, Otto, and Erick Rincon lead the electronic tribal dance revolution that has overtaken the airwaves in Mexico and the dance floors of the Southwestern United States. Their mix of pre-Columbian sounds, techno, and cumbia is as catchy and fascinating as it is a workout to dance to. The audience, soaked but happy, danced and sang along as the group's dancers did the same.
The Tejano group Intocable closed out the night with a smooth and confident performance of norteño and conjunto ballads that has kept them at the top of the Tejano game for almost 20 years. I found myself singing along to "Eres Mi Droga," "Y Todo Para Que?" and "No Te Vayas," songs that I haven't heard in over a decade, but that I hold in my heart as some of the best Tejano music I've ever had the pleasure to experience.
After a good night's rest and a much-deserved brunch consisting of tamales and enchiladas, I made my way back to Fiesta Gardens on Saturday, which proved to be one of those rare, pleasantly gorgeous spring afternoons in Texas devoid of humidity and mosquitos. The cool breeze and the sunshine put a smile on every festival attendee's face as the crowd enjoyed music from one of the four stages and consumed treats from one of the many food trucks parked inside the venue.
My first act of the day was a tejano gentleman named Leonardo Jimenez, known the world over as "Flaco." His set was a perfect mix of his father Santiago's classics such as "Ay Te Dejo En San Antonio" and "Viva Seguin," tributes to his departed friends and Texas Tornados bandmates Freddy Fender and Doug Sahm, and his newer hits from the albums Sleepy Town (2000) and Squeeze Box King (2003). One of my favorite verses from "En El Cielo No Hay Cerveza" goes like this:
In Heaven, there is no beer.
That's why we drink it here.
And when I'm gone from here,
All my friends will be drinking all the beer!
Let it be known that my desire is for that verse to be etched into my tombstone.
The highlights of his set were indeed his covers of Tornados favorites "Wasted Days And Wasted Nights," "Who Were You Thinking Of?", and "Hey Baby, Que Paso?" The crowd -- young and old, tejano and gringo -- danced and sang along to the living legend's timeless music and mastery of the accordion.