By Christina E. Rodriguez
Aterciopelados never tires of spreading their message of peace and love for Mother Earth in their records and concerts. That message is even conveyed on their stage decoration and on what they actually wear.
Drawing a crowd Saturday at The Other Tent stage at Bonnaroo, the group led by Andrea Echeverri and Hector Buitrago filled the stage with big toy snakes. Echeverri wore blue shiny pants, an indigenous blouse and tiny, decorative, circular stickers over her eyebrows, as well as two long braids. Her voice is like no other: Familiar and soothing, yet powerful enough to get the point across.
“I’ve seen them like 10 times. In Colombia they play a lot,” said Viviana Cruz, 25, originally from Bogotá, Colombia. “I came to Bonnaroo especially for this band.”
“Everything she sings is true. She’s not trying to start problems with the government or anything like that because we already have too many problems with the government,” added Cruz, who now lives in Virginia.
Before performing “Río,” Echeverri explained that at one time people honored the Earth and all of its elements. “We have to recover the respect for women and for Pachamama (Mother Earth),” she said.
During her introduction to “Día Paranormal,” Echeverri explained that Colombia, although beautiful has “violent problems. Paranormal problems. Hay paramilitares (There are paramilitaries). This is a game of words,” she explained. “I hope that all these problems go away. Very, very far away.”
“I love them. Their lyrics are so meaningful and their social consciousness…” trailed off Julie Roa, 26, also a native of Bogotá, Colombia. “They’re beautiful, beautiful songs. What they talk about is so real. They sing for a reason.”
As Roa sang almost every lyric to every song, she waved her Colombian flag over a banister right near the stage and jumped up and down, screaming and cheering.
Echeverri held up a quilt with a number of world flags united as one and explained that what she and the band wanted was to unite the world because in reality, we are all brothers and sisters. They proceeded to sing “Bandera,” dedicating it to “Mrs. Arizona.”
Roa, who, like Cruz, now lives in Virginia, says that she has never seen Aterciopelados live, but was very pleased to find out that not only were they performing at Bonnaroo, but that there were more Latino acts to follow.
“I think it’s excellent, given that our demographics are growing so rapidly and that we have such talent all over South America,” said Roa. “It makes perfect sense to bring it to these festivals.”