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Festival Review///All My Friends Music Fest

By / September 28, 2011  

Photo By Claudia Ochoa(Me Hace Ruido)

As i arrived to All My Friends music fest in Tijuana mexico, bands were unloading their cargo, two very pretty young girls carried their arts and craft supplies to sell and i was still trying to come to the grips with the fact that i was in TIJUANA MEXICO covering a music festival. The festival was located in a place called “millionaire’s house” which looked like one of Scarface’s lesser known properties. I walked through and an Olympic sized pool engulfed the center of the property. I slowly tried to sync myself with the layout of the venue. Three Stages made up the festival, Pool Stage, the Court stage which was located on what used to be a tennis court and more traditional venue stage called the Room Stage

The first hours of the festival where the “pool party” a term I use loosely because almost no one got in the pool and the music the DJ was playing was exactly “party” music . So Instead I went looking for any social interaction and saw Gabriel Duprat member of Shantelle and he introduced me to Aaron Soto, a local horror filmmaker who plays a vital role in the Tijuana Indie scene providing the visuals part to the movement. He filmed the two gorgeous music videos for Dani Shivers “Witch” and Shantelle’s “Unanamonos”. He talked about his dreams of screening a film at Fantastic Fest and left me with a quote I wont be forgetting any time soon “Fuck HD its all about VHS”. After a couple hours of terrible indie dance being played on the DJ’s mac book{Boi Stop you aint no dj}, it was finally time for the first bands to start playing.

The First Band to make their way on to the court stage was Glasmus, which provided a tolerable brand of post punk/alternative rock. The band had its bright moments especially closing the set and a their lead singer provided the right amount of dramatics needed from a front man

After a quick dinner with Bam Bam, I made my way back to festival to catch one of my favorite sets of the night. It was Celofan providing a breezy blend of noise-pop, a very sleek mix of dripping reverb coupled with washed out vocals made for a perfect start to the night. It was one of the most complete sets that left me expecting a lot from the group in the future.

I made my way down to the Room stage to see Santos Balcones Durango. Which provided a more rowdy rock set,which wasn’t the best but it was fun to see mipsters attempt moshing. Electric Healing Sound made their way up and brought forth a clean brand of minimalist pop-rock with songs in English, the band seemed very comfotbale singing in English and provided a more than one pleasant toe taping song.

AMF brought back together a major reunion in the Tijuana Scene. The Hardcore/ Rock Band Mae Machino which was much acclaimed in their day came back and played together for the first time in 5 years. It was a emotional set and that seemed to carry though to the band. A very aggressive set that provided a lot of sparks but seemed to cut short after only 5 songs. The fans were left wanting more and wondering if this was the last time they would see Mae Machino together

Mentira Mentria brought the dirty grunge to AMF, a epically dark and loud set, the band is set to release a full EP later this year and after seeing them live i cant wait to get my hands on it.

Two solo acts made their way to the Pool Stage. First it was Late Night Howl, the side project from the Mae Machino front man Pablo Dodero gave us one of the most heartfelt moments of the night with a soothing folk set/acoustic set, it’s never easy being a solo act at a festival but Pablo carried himself very well and there were plenty of “pass me the klennex” moments.

As the dead of night came its was time for Tijuana’s dark pop-witch Dani Shivers to send well-shivers down our spines. A spider web table-cloth adorned under her vintage keyboard. The evil lo-fi pop brought a mix of spooky beats and a labyrinth of dark synth but under all the darkness i saw an emerging pop-star. Dani Shivers showed the ability to maneuver from that dark side with a more Playful tune Up, but it was her single Witch that captivated the crowd. Any girl who sings “hold that fucking knife” has my heart.

After Sweating out with some cumbia tunes provided by La Diabla and later dancing all alone to Maria y Jose’s Violentao which i requested a DJ to play, the moment had to come to the headliners to play.

It was now around 11 pm and it was the moment for Shantelle the band i had heard nothing but great things to take the stage. Considered Tijuana’s Best Band, Shantelle gave a performance that backed up that heavy statement. Shantelle provided a a gorgeous set of Shoegaze, captivating from start to finish, Shantelle’s razor-sharp keyboards, fluorescent guitar textures and Julio Pillado’s dream-wave voice made the whole set felt like i was being dipped into a glossy fantasy filled with shimmering lights and 90’s romance(the best kind of romance) and i never wanted to leave. Shantelle is Mexico’s biggest hidden gem. But i have a feeling that wont be for long.

Finally, The time had come for the festivals headliners Bam Bam. The Monterrey rockers struggled with amp issues which bogged down their first two openers but those were quickly erased and the finally picked up the pace with “Decoalipis Joderowsky” . Playing tracks off their acclaimed Futura via , Bam Bam set  almost climaxed prematurely by playing their two singles “Hiprondromo” and “Ragratron” fairly early but had enough in their catalog to prove there are well capable of headling any festival.

It was 45 minutes of psychedelic furry-galloping guitar riffs, reverberating synth driven keys and thunderous drums that pounded the late Tijuana night. Watching the one-two punch of Hyponmango and the quiet but commanding presence of Mou was like watching two artists blossoming right in-front of us. Mou joked between songs that the lights should be dimmed, I conquer, what’s the point of having glow in the dark shirts when they place the brightest light on them? The lights never were dimmed and neither did the Bam Bam set. Bam Bam set reaffirmed what I already knew. They are the Mexico’s Rock band for the next decade.

The night came and went, and closing the fest was Lovable Mexican Folk bad Boy, Juan Cirerol. Perhaps the only person in the whole festival wearing cowboy boots.

Juan Cirerol provided a traditional Mexican side to the fest, playing nortenos that told tales of Perros, Cholas, Borracheras all with a rough rockabilly approach.

Juan Cirerol strummed his guitar at a furious pace and blew his heart out though his harmonica. It way rowdy set, exactly the type of set Juan thrives from. Everyone danced, everyone sang and everyone held up their Tecate cup in appreciation for Juan

The last I could remember of his set was my favorite song by him Toque y Rol a song about a cig break. At that point It was 3 am and i was more than slightly intoxicated my eyes began to droop and all I could hear was “toque y rol dame un pason en rosartio para fumar, toque y rol”. I slowly swayed and swam in the mexican folkore goodness.

The festival ended and everyone slowly drank their last bit of alcohol, gave their last goodbyes and made their way home.

I made my way down and sat next to the girl that somehow convinced me to come down here. I’m glad she did, This was unlike any festival I had ever covered. There were no massive red-bull signs, no big ass “media tents”, no overpriced beer. Seriously I had 6 beers for like 15 bucks. This festival had the entire core needs to be successful without all the unnecessary weight. No Wristbands, No Long Lines, No Photo Pits. Just three stages, a lot of bands and amazing people.

Beyond a great time, All My Friends provided a reference point for the Tijuana Indie Scene, a moment for these artists to look back and see what can be accomplished with the right coordination. There is no doubting many of the bands that come out of Tijuana are musically years ahead of rest of Mexico and Latin America. Yet I get this feeling that even these bands don’t realize how special their scene is. It’s a scene that has been plagued with self-doubt and unfulfilled expectations. This festival may have provided the spark the people in the scene needed. A wake-up call to say “Hey we have an indie scene in Tijuana and pretty damn good one”. Leaving Tijuana I had a lot of optimism for the future of the scene, After spending two days with the people who organized the festival, I realized these were people who have their hearts invested in the scene and where in it for the long haul. Things are never easy in the music industry but if Tijuana can keep that collective community spirit I saw at AMF, I have a feeling everything will be todo fine.

[ I would like to say thank you to all the kind folk in Tijuana for the Hospitality and making a mipster feel at home. A Special thanks to the AMF Crew-Marty,Rueben, and “brown bear” Argenis, y much respect for la razita Dodero. I look foward to seeing you guys next year]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3o0n_y4XkN0&w=420&h=315]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3UAYWhZBN4&w=420&h=315]

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