Although the Latin Alternative offerings of this year's Coachella Music & Arts Festival are few and far between, the acts that did make it onto the roster of performing artists are diverse and definitely worthy of attention.
Of course, the biggest draw is the highly touted Caifanes reunion that debuted last weekend at Mexico City's Festival Vive Latino. Two other bands, Los Bunkers and Bomba Estéreo, follow Caifanes northward after having turned in their own searing sets at Latin America's most important music gathering.
By coming to Coachella, these bands and others offer festival goers a chance to see Latin Alternative acts representative of different genres all the way from rock to electro-cumbias hailing from their respective major metropolitan centers in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Chile.
Helping navigate the musical terrain is this Latin Alternative Music Guide to Coachella!
1. Caifanes (Mexico)
Debuting at last weekend's Festival Vive Latino in Mexico City, the Caifanes reunion is definitely the Latin Alternative “must see” of Coachella's three-day weekend. Last Saturday, with Sabo Romo's inimitable bass lines and Marcovich's clean licks on guitar back in the mix, the classic catalog of the pioneering rock en español group sounded just right, as did the adoration of the massive crowd singing along to every word. It was a musical moment worthy of a deep-felt “Viva Mexico!” Will their performance tomorrow at Coachella truly be the last we hear from them? The question alone beckons you to the stage.
2. Los Bunkers (Chile)
Chilean rockers Los Bunkers made a name for themselves in a Latin American country with a competitive music scene with 2005's Vida de Perros. When the album finally made its way stateside a year later courtesy of Nacional Records, music lovers were told that if they enjoyed bands like Franz Ferdinand and the Strokes, they would love Los Bunkers as well. With hits like “Llueve Sobre La Ciudad” you may just find yourself enjoying them even more! The band has also been known to delve into covers of songs from one of the most powerful musical movements in history, La Nueva Canción Chilena. Coachella provides audiences with a rare opportunity to see them do it all live on the West Coast.
3. Bomba Estéreo (Colombia)
The inclusion of Bomba Estéreo in this year's festival will provide the crowds in Coachella with the frenetic energy of their infectious brand of electro-cumbia hip-hop. The group experienced a breakout year in 2010 fueled by the spread of their hit song “Fuego” that aptly displayed to the world Liliana Saumet's fierce vocal prowess. Seeking to keep the momentum going, Bomba Estéreo released a new EP, Ponte Bomb, earlier this year that features a cover by the same name of Technotronic's classic “Pump Up the Jam.” Rest assured audiences will appreciate the cross over appeal.
4. Emicida (Brazil)
Hip-hop in Latin America is a potent force from the island nation of Cuba all the way down to Argentina. Somewhere in between is Brazil, the region's largest country and admittedly my own personal weakest spot in terms of knowing what's going down musically with the genre there. This year, Coachella provides a glimpse into the realm with Emicida. The São Paulo MC came to prominence when an uploaded YouTube video of one of his freestyle battles went viral scoring hundreds of thousands of views. At the time, Emicida didn't have a computer, much less an album. Now he's come all the way to Coachella with songs like “Triunfo”–a triumph indeed.
5. One Day as a Lion (U.S.A.)
Owning to the Latin Alternative slim pickings at Coachella, the last three bands to choose from for the purpose of this list are all based on this side of la línea. Between Ozomatli, the Omar Rodriguez Lopez band and One Day as a Lion, this guide is going to have to go with the Zack de la Rocha fronted project for its final pick (while still recommending seeing them all!). The Chicano lead singer knows Coachella well, headlining it twice with his other band Rage Against the Machine. De la Rocha returns to the festival this time around with his live hip-hop experiment powered by drummer Jon Theodore. One Day as a Lion shows are few and far between so take this rare opportunity to hear songs performed live from their self-titled 2008 EP release.