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, specifically on Sunday.
Day two called upon usage of the fourth stage ( with only three active on day one ) and held over 70 artists, many repeats from previous Tropicália line-ups, and for a younger crowd than day one. For locals within the Inland Empire, Sunday carried many artists who frequent the area. For those who were new to the galore of artists, it seemed to be a compact “starter pack” which was a well portrayal of the evolution in music of the local scene, but did seem troublesome to witness the majority of acts due to the overlapping set-times.
Despite the stacked artists, this year’s relocation continued to be a smart choice by Goldenvoice, and did provide more breathing room than previous events. Día de Los Muertos trinkets continued throughout the Fairplex, and L.A. Taco’s vendor curation provided an ample amount of food, noting the addicting nachos that were sprinkled with Hot Cheetos.
The remainder of the day were drenched in “sad boy” and lo-fi jams which incorporated the D.I.Y. mindset. While day one held the past and present, day two looked towards the future. Overall, Tropicália did connect a progressing Latin music community in its third year, but one can only hope for more women and women identifying artists in the future.
Here are Sunday’s highlights:
UMI took the L.A. Taco stage after a short technical difficulty, thanking a slowly growing crowd for enduring. The stage rested between both the Tropicalia and Toyota main stages and often competed for noise dominance. But the sonic seas parted in perfect time for UMI to serenade the crowd with her latest work. “Love Affair” premiered last month in sultry greatness, portrayed this night with her keys and bass bathed in warm blue light. It’s that chill wave study soundtrack sound that grew on us faster than we expected. – Justin Bieggar
Michael Seyer’s set caught ears with a windfall of sax through debris of bleeding noise between a full lot of four stages. A strong dosage of neo-soul with nostalgic chimes of funk, Seyer’s indie charm was extremely addicting as he dished out tracks from his latest EP, Nostalgia. Before starting “I Can’t Dance,” Seyer quipped, “This song is about not being able to dance and if you can, dance along.”
Bangkok-based artist, Phum Viphurit and his accompanying band, gave a strong performance that flowed with ease as the sun began to set. Despite flying over 20 hours for this set, Viphurit was full of gracious energy. The artist pulled from an alluring selection of genres including neo-soul and a hazy indie fusion, yet wasn’t anywhere near repetitive. Noting the precision of all artists who accompanied Viphurit on stage, specifically the bassist, the artist’s slew of songs such as “Lover Boy” and “Softly Spoken,” gave the crowd what they wanted and turned casual listeners into fans. If for some reason one was overwhelmed with the events of the day, Viphurit’s voice and overall performance was enough to put a smile on anyone’s face.
The Los Angeles’ “psychedelic cumbia punk” magicians, formerly known as Thee Commons, gave an enthralling set that never slowed down. From encouraging dancing, to opening up the pit, Tropa Magica employed a new freedom without limitations in their sounds. Implementing the right amount of cumbia into their aggressive garage-rock licks, Tropa Magica continues to be one of those bands that are able to surprise a crowd, regardless if you’ve witnessed them before.
What can be said about The Marías that hasn’t been already said? The chilled out vibes melted all worries and came as a welcoming embrace for the main stage. Filled with dream-pop chords and and a bilingual, ethereal croon by frontwoman María Zardoya, the indie band lulled the crowd in a short amount of time. Covering Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time“, as well as performing their breakout single “I Don’t Know You,” The Marías’ success shouldn’t even be questioned at this point.
Omar Apollo danced his way on stage alongside funky chops before going into one of the most smoothest deliveries of the day. Accompanied by a high falsetto, psych-pop, and a heavy amount of soul, Apollo kept you wanting more.
“Thank you, festival.” Sending out audible punches of psych-punk, Oh Sees continues to that band you want to see over and over again. Thank you, reader.
Kali Uchis closed the night and was welcomed to an eager crowd. Accompanied by four dancers who moved with Uchis, the artist emerged behind a fan of feathers and out of an iconic shell, sparking with her own array of pearls. Kicking things off with “Loner,” the Colombian singer sensually sung across the stage and spell-blinded each listener. Bedroom-pop fit to the crisp and cold night, Uchis’ vocals and control of a crowd is always a pleasure to appreciate live.
Chicano Batman blessed the main stage once more and delivered gratitude, psychedelic soul, tropical arrangements, and tracks not played as often live. Paying homage to those who coined the term Tropicália, as explained on the band’s twitter, the vibrant performance came as a refresher. Trimmed with makeshifts ponchos that read “freedom,” the passionate vibes from the band transmuted into a connecting sound. Closing with a celebration that brought out an array of dancers, Chicano Batman’s performance served as a bookend to day one.
Sometimes you just need to mosh and move to a more aggressive palette. Thank goodness that Fury was able to deliver. Coming off of their latest album released this year, Failed Entertainment, the Orange County hardcore band and their gleaming vitality rocked the smaller stage. If you need a good slap to the face, of course as an act of encouragement, we recommend catching Fury live, who will be returning to Los Angeles Friday, January 24 at The Echo.
The Buttertones’ set was met with technical difficulties that caused a slight pause in their performance, which eventually encouraged chanting by the crowd. As festival employees moved exposed cables and the barricade from GA to VIP, echoes of “buttertones” continued to keep the momentum alive. Nonetheless, the band delivered with the same spirit they started off with and returned back on stage to belt out 3 more tracks that ranged from surf-punk to garage-rock.
The indie-pop charm of The Drums are always a true joy to witness. Jonny Pierce’s movements constantly kept the crowd engaged and excited, in hopes of a favorite to be played. Packing in all the hits throughout their 10-year span in only 30 minutes seemed difficult but was a feat pulled off by the band (Yes, they played “Money“).
No matter how many times we catch SadGirl, the band always gives the crowd everything they have. You feel young again, or better yet there’s an innocent and careless feeling that sets you free after their neo-surf rock set.
Edit 11/16/19: Added additional information for artist UMI. Corrected song for Phum. Previous version stated “Pluto” when correct track is “Softly Spoken.”
More photos from the day. All photos by Justin Bieggar for GUM.