You feel it too, right? That ominous, claustrophobic, walls-closing-in-on-you sensation of utter dread? Like every time you look at the news, there’s a new horror waiting to be absorbed into your life with increasingly numb detachedness? Like there’s this big, thick, hopelessly dark cloud full of rain hovering directly above you, not quite raining yet but ready to burst at any moment? Is it just us, or… are things kind of a weird bummer right about now?
Look, we feel you. Living in Buenos Aires in the year 2018 is a bit like being out on a sailboat in the middle of the ocean, but the ocean is on fire, and the sailboat is also on fire, and then you also catch fire. Thankfully, there are ways to put those fires out, at least temporarily. One of those ways is basking in the simple joys of art, culture, music and good food. And a great way to enjoy all of those things at once is the wonderful Ciudad Emergente Festival, which returns to La Usina del Arte for its eleventh installment.
All sorts of things are happening during this four-day festival: music, stand-up comedy, film screenings, extreme sports, dancing, art exhibits, food trucks, all that good stuff. And the best part? It’s all free! Well, except for the food trucks. You have to pay for those.
Today, we’re going to be focusing on some of the artists that will be performing across the festival’s three stages. And while there will be some bigger, more recognizable names performing this year, we’ve chosen to focus on some of the lesser-known artists on the bill, so that you can show your obscure music knowledge off to your friends while hoping that they haven’t read this article.
And hey, check it out, we made you a playlist featuring selections from the artists we are featuring here! Make sure to check it out, and follow The Bubble on Spotify for more cool playlists.
Okay, look, we may have just told you that we’re focusing on the lesser-known stuff, but we’re kicking our list off with an all-star tribute to Luis Miguel. We’re getting this one out of the way because you and I both know we’re dying to sing along to Luismi’s back catalog along with several thousand people. Artists such as Ángela Torres, Emmanuel Horvilleur, and Leo García will be taking the stage to sing the songs that rocked 2018, and we’ll be right there with them.
If what you’re looking for is catchy, hooky, meat-and-potatoes rock’n’roll that harkens back to Argentinian rock of the 1970s, Triciclo’s brand of concise, economical songwriting tight, propulsive musicianship will scratch that very specific itch of yours. Good head-bobbing music that will also have you double-checking what year it is.
Cordoba’s own Fly Fly Caroline combine a dreamy, ethereal indie sound with the rawer, louder dimensions of hard rock, resulting in songs that sound immediate, direct, and epic in scope. Their debut LP from 2016 immediately cemented them as one of my favorite new bands, and after seeing them live a couple of times since, I can assure you they deliver a hard-rocking show.
There’s a particular brand of folk music being made in Buenos Aires that seems perpetually stuck in navel-gazing and Spinetta-worshipping. Then you have bands like Julio y Agosto, whose combination of folk elements with pop-rock singalong chants transcend tired old genre tropes. They seem more interested in incorporating the sounds of the past to look forward rather than backwards.
Speaking of looking forward. Mi primo Fosforescente is a band that defies categorization, which means their sound is usually referred to as some variation of “indie.” The truth is these guys mix punk rock, pop melodies, funky instrumentation, spacey production and off-kilter arrangements to make something that is as intriguing and eyebrow-raising as their excellent band name. And, after all, don’t you kind of want to think to yourself “what the heck is this?” the first time you listen to something new?
You might already know about Louta, the “Prince of the San Isidro Trap Scene.” He’s been making a name for himself for the last year. Truth be told, even that cheeky description might be doing him a disservice, as his music is often grander, more ambitious, more expansive than what could reasonably be described as “trap.” This might feel like a silly thing to say about an artist whose songs sometimes come off as comedy sketches, but Louta’s ability to mix humor, wordplay, and confessional songwriting makes him a talent to look out for.
Jazmin Esquivel makes largely acoustic, largely guitar-based music that is dark, personal and somewhat mysterious, melding elements of folk, bluegrass, blues and rockabilly. Far from being a carbon-copy of her influences, her songs feel absolutely like her own, with elegant melodies and thoughtful lyrics. Her album Púrpura is one of our local favorites from this year, and well worth checking out on all the streaming platforms. Don’t miss your chance to see this rising talent do her thing on stage.
“Left turn” is a term that is sometimes used by music writers to describe the moment a song veers from the formula they’ve convinced themselves it’s going to stick by. The problem is that songs – or at least good songs, or at the very least very good songs – don’t care about what you think they’re going to do. Fusion-rock band La Secuela are masters at taking songs to startling places, as their delightfully unpredictable album Teleprompter displays. This group of supremely talented musicians take progressive rock, jazz, and pop music in strange and unexpected directions, and it’s more than worth checking out.
If you like your pop music to be loud, big, densely adorned and shimmery as a shopping-mall Christmas tree (and honestly, who doesn’t want that?), Lucas & The Woods have what you’re looking for. Synths and bells and crashing drums and meticulously coiffed hairstyles. These guys have an amazing ear for pop craftsmanship, writing songs that sound like they could’ve been plucked straight out of the mid-late 80s, while still feeling vibrant, contemporary and very much of the moment.
Spanish chanteuse Vinila Von Bismark brings her richly layered brand of chaos – combining elements of folk, flamenco, cumbia, 60s pop and contemporary urban music – to the Usina del Arte stage. Her powerful voice and charismatic stage performance anchor compositions that feel as bewilderingly otherworldly as they do familiar and fully lived-in.
With their slinky, jazzy approach to melody and instrumentation, Melanie Williams & El Cabloide remind me a bit of a young Fiona Apple — but, like, a cleverer Fiona Apple; a Fiona Apple who’s hopped up on caffeine and has spent the last three days getting no sleep and listening to a spotify playlist consisting entirely of big band and bossa nova music Alsoa Fiona Apple who’s not afraid to let her band members take a solo every once in a while, Anyway, I don’t mean to spend their entire entry comparing them to other artists; the point is, they’re great, and you should see them.
That’s it for our recommendations! Remember: this is just a small sample of what’s going on during Ciudad Emergente. There are a lot of other great artists to check out, as well as other wonderful activities (film screenings, dance sessions, exhibits, etc), so make sure to check out the schedule. The website will also give you the times and locations within the venue for each one of the above shows, should you want to check any of them out!