Photo by Lucien Rimach via Mayta's official Facebook page.

Pop Music

Dallas’ Indie-Rock Latin America Festival Will Forge Ahead This Weekend

Despite a couple coronavirus-related cancellations, the show will go on.

Edit: On Friday, March 13, organizers of Indie-Rock Latin America made the decision to cancel the concert amid coronavirus concerns. 

You’d be hard-pressed to determine what, exactly, is Victor Rimach’s vocation among his many avocations. The bar manager at Sketches of Spain and the operations manager at Wild Detectives, Rimach is also the lead guitarist for Mayta, a Peruvian rock fusion band, and the founder-owner of Chasquis, a Dallas-based music booking agency.

Heading so much hospitality and culture in Dallas, you could call him a civil servant. You might also call him a civil engineer—a bridge-builder of sorts. The latest Chasquis project, Indie-Rock Latin America 2020, will showcase bands and artists from Texas, Illinois, Venezuela, and Colombia at Club Dada on Saturday, March 14.

Rimach has been connecting American and Latin cultures since he moved to Dallas from his hometown of Lima, Peru in 2001. He joined Mayta in 2005, and, in an effort to further contribute to Dallas’ Latin music scene, he founded Chasquis two years later.

“I wanted to create a conversation among Dallas artists and Latin American artists,” Rimach says. “I wanted to create a bridge between two cultures.”

One of Chasquis’ premiere events, this year’s installment of Indie-Rock Latin America has had some hiccups due to coronavirus concerns, which caused two of the international acts to cancel. However, the festival is forging on as planned.

Indie-Rock Latin America 2020 will be headlined by Superfónicos. Hailing from Austin, the band is influenced by Caribbean coastal music and built upon Afro-Colombian rhythms: cumbia, merengue, fandango, puya. Atop traditional rhythms, Superfónicos layers poetically political lyrics, traditional Colombian gaita flute, and rock-inspired guitar and basslines—a natural direction for band leader and bassist Nicolas Sanchez, who grew up in Dallas playing reggae, heavy metal, funk, and rock. “Whether we like it or not, the foundation of a lot of our playing is Jimi Hendrix, and the Rolling Stones, and the Beatles,” Sanchez says. “It’s ingrained in there.”

Sometimes the result is more funk-inclined, like the song “Ethiopian Dust.” Sometimes, the band leans more toward classic rock, like with “Suelta.” Sometimes, it’s more traditional, like “Merecumbe.” But the result is always a synthesis symbolic of Colombia’s diversity; indigenous pre-Columbian flute, Spanish-origin vocals, and African-origin rhythm. “Sometimes beautiful things happen through terrible things like slavery,” Sanchez says. “But out of that was born this sound.”

Opening the festival is Lester Rey, from Illinois, an artist who combines deconstructed Latin rhythms with influences of his Chicago upbringing, including hip-hop, blues, and R&B. Colombian act Montañera, which creates folk-inspired electronic beats, will follow.

Next will play Venezuelan indie musician Sr. Presidente (Heberto Novoa). A singer-songwriter and pianist, Novoa draws inspiration from Venezuelan folk and pop music, French modernist writers like Marcel Proust and Arthur Rimbaud, and the geography of his hometown, Maracaibo. His lyrics broach topics such as the sea, cities and the relationships that develop within urban spaces, and death. Novoa creates always with this mantra in mind: “Habla de tu aldea y serás universal.” Speak of your village and you will be universal.

Of course, with the socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro corrupting his country, it’s not easy to be an artist. But, as Novoa explains, “through music and through lyrics, obviously, I can speak of my inconformity. I can also try to help heal so that people can have catharsis through my music.”

“How is it to work right now in Maracaibo? It is hell. But it must be remembered that above all, in all places, it is in this crisis when creativity is most appealing, it is when the most precious artworks are made,” he says. “We need to resist. Therefore, mainly because of that, it is a very important time for making music and for not remaining silent.”

Rimach’s band Mayta will play fourth, following Sr. Presidente. Mayta has a similar, rhythm-driven and synthetic approach, incorporating musical traditions from huayno (Peruvian folk) to negroide (Afro-Peruvian folk) to chicha (psychedelic cumbia), not to mention funk, jazz, and King Crimson-style rock.

DJs Eterno and Sudaka (Rimach himself) will close the show. As Rimach puts it, “the night will end with puro baile.” That’s pure dance, going until 2 a.m. “We try and kind of always hit somewhere between political and just, like, baila,” Sanchez says. “Somewhere in between dance your ass off and think your ass off.”

Tickets to Indie Rock Latin America 2020 are $13.

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