Perfectly timed to the trimmings of Día de Los Muertos, and delectable cuisine curated by L.A. Taco, the Pomona Fariplex was transformed into a vast arena, immersed in Latin music which connected a myriad of generations. Consisting of four stages, with only three active on day one, Goldenvoice rang in Tropicália’s third year smoothly.
Originally, Tropicália’s inaugural debut in Long Beach became a snapshot of Latin music and the cultured, connecting threads of soul music, rightly looked as a rite of passage and massive quinceaños for the community. The now two-day event allowed for more of an exploration of the what the future may hold within the Latin music scene and evolved to a spacious celebration with a strong SoCal-Latin influence.
Day one catered to the classics and at times an older, millennial crowd that held cumbias, romantic ballads from the ’70s, Latin Ska-punk/skacore, and of course Norteño cuts from Los Tigres Del Norte who closed the main stage once more for Tropicália. Many held special performances such as El Gran Silencio who celebrated their 27th Anniversary, to Fobia ringing in 30 years.
This year’s relocation was a smart choice by Goldenvoice, in terms of space and arrangement, and allowed for more moments of the festival to be enjoyed. With only minor hiccups such as Ivy Queen unable to perform and being replaced with Mr. Capone-E, Saturday still acted as the strongest for its conciseness, talent, and easily accessible set-times.
Here are Saturday’s highlights:
Caifanes clearly made dreams come true Saturday night. Nearing as one of the final acts on the Tropicália Stage, the iconic alt-rock band from Mexico played all the classics, such as “Afuera,” “Aviéntame,” and “La Negra Tomasa” for their encore. Flawless and always gracious to the crowd, Caifanes stole the night and left many in awe.
La Santa Cecilia
Grammy Award-winning band, La Santa Cecilia, have a presence to them which instantly grabs an audience’s attention. Whether familiar with the Los Angeles salsa-punks or not, La Santa Cecilia’s styling of traditional Latin strings, Marisol Hernandez’s powerhouse vocals, and their overall genuine connection between each other that is felt on stage, continues to be a cool cup of water for thirsty ears. There’s something magical about the ensemble as they croon about pain and love in a “humanized” fashion which doesn’t aim to separate but rather connect our stories.
Only right to be in Pomona and call upon Inland Empire’s Afro-Latin ensemble. Quita Penas hit the ground running in their set without hesitation and welcomed the early crowd to tropical rhythms and was a great follow-up from La Chamba on the Toyota stage. The gracious flush of melodies were compacted in their 30 minute set but the members didn’t rush as they continued to give their thanks and encourage the crowd to make new friends to the sound of their music.
Alt-indie band Enjambre, who started in California but found a larger realm of success in Mexico, instantly became a memorable rock name for kicking off the first wave of bands on the main stage. Their cuts carried a well balanced fusion of their trekked influences and lounged from romantic indie croons to louder, psych embellishments. Enjambre created new fans among the diverse aged crowd (who waited patiently for the icons to close) and gave the crowd their all.
Enanitos Verdes + Hombres G
The Spain and Argentina icons teamed up once more for what seemed to be an extra stop from their Huevos Revueltos tour which took home in the United States. The pop and rock hits from both legends were graciously welcomed for two hours on the main stage and became a flashback for those who grew-up with the bands, or from those who were influenced by them as they were passed along. It was a nostalgic and sentimental viewing, alongside Caifanes, but somehow still felt fresh.
Natalia Lafourcade smiled brightly as she took the Toyota Stage mid-day. Despite a slight delay in starting, Lafourcade’s set was among the most anticipated and garnered a massive crowd. The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter from Veracruz, Mexico delivered the best throughout her 45-minute set, most notably hailing a flood of cameras during “Hasta La Raíz.” Lafourcade’s rock, indie, and classical arrangements attributed to a timeless sound that gives credit to the artist’s obvious appeal.
La Sonora Dinamita (with Vilma Diaz)
La Sonora Dinamita with Vilma Diaz got the crowd moving with their tropical, cumbia which proudly originated from Columbia, and held the best of their 60 years on stage. “Escándalo,” and “Mi Cucu” acted as the most well-known favorites throughout the crowd and despite rotating members as the years passed by, the original 13+ line-up continues to enthrall and be a vital asset within Latin music history.
The Mango Loco stage held true gems such as Jorge Ayala, better known under his stage name King Clave. The Argentine crooner who held much success in the ’70s and ’80s with his romantic pop-ballads sweetly belted out classics like “Usted Me Dejó Llorando.” Ayala’s set made way for a slower pace and much needed break from the high-voltage sets inside the Fairplex’s grounds. Tucked away by the bar near the entrance, Ayala’s softness was a soothing ring to the crowd.
Los Angeles’ Cherry Wine, which features members from East LA’s The Altons, truly left new listeners enamored (including myself) and was once again another gem at the Mango Loco Stage. The 8-piece set which nods as an Amy Winehouse tribute band, stacked talent and entertainment in one neat ensemble. The velvety tones and tight rhythm of the band instantly caught my ear, while neither vocalist attempted to outshine one another, but rather merge when needed for delicious harmonies. Against the heated afternoon, Cherry Wine stayed embedded in a listener’s head for all the right reasons.
San Francisco’s La Doña kicked off year three of the festival with an immersive and hyphy set. La Doña was able to navigate between languages, hip-hop, and her own style of “femmetone,” as the crowd trickled onto the grounds. Speaking on culture changes within her hometown and encouraging all to shake “their ass,” La Doña’s original recipe made her an artist to definitely watch out for as the new year comes.
Grammy Award and Latin Grammy Award-winning Mexican rock band Zoé never fail to impress live. Nearing the end of their Aztlán tour, the alt-rockers quickly swam with electronic cuts from their last album such as “Azul” to older beloved songs, “Labios Rotos.” Frontman León Larregui chimed in briefly to thank fans in English and Spanish to only waltz back behind the music for a solid 45-minute set.
More photos from the day. All photos by Justin Bieggar for GUM.