By Christina E. Rodriguez
The ground was sandy and wet near the tent assigned to the Latin Alternative program on Day Three of the Bonnaroo Arts and Music Festival in Tennessee, also known as The Other Tent. Small groups of people were there early to hear opening band Bomba Estereo.
“When I heard that there was going to be a Latin tent, I was really excited about it,” said Sebastian Orellana, 22, of Queens, New York. “When I heard about Bomba Estereo [being part of the program], we were definitely buying tickets.”
As the band was performing, the tent area filled up with people of all colors, not just Latinos, to check out Bomba Estereo’s energetic mix of hip-hop, electronica and cumbia. “I really like the cumbia, I like to dance,” said Orellana’s girlfriend and travel buddy, Adriana Calcadilla, 22, also from Queens. “I’m also looking forward to seeing Aterciopelados.”
Orellana and Calcadilla traveled 25 hours on a Greyhound bus from New York. “From the Greyhound station they told us it was one mile to the campground, but it wasn’t,” said Orellana. “We walked about three miles.”
Kristi Sanchez, 23, from Dallas made the 12-hour drive to see acts like The Dave Matthews Band and the Flaming Lips but said that the Latin tent was a big plus. “Bomba Estereo is my sister’s favorite band and I have to listen to them all the time, plus we love the Mexican Institute of Sound, so we thought it was perfect,” she said.
Liliana, lead singer for Bomba Estereo, entered the stage in a pink leotard with black tights and short gold shorts. The Colombian front woman hopped and danced around the stage, using her arms to emphasize the lyrics. Julian, the guitarist, slapped the strings to give the songs meatier, shrill riffs that fell in syncopation with the synthesizer and drum beats.
The 45-minute set seemed to fly. Liliana called up to ten people to join them on stage, but about 20 jumped on to dance behind her and in front of the drum set.
Bonnaroo’s Latin Alternative tent continued with acts like Mexican Institute of Sound, Nortec Collective, Aterciopelados and Amigos Invisibles to eventually end with Ozomatli, the lineup’s more popular band.
“I didn’t expect that they were going to have a tent like this here. I would expect it more at Austin City Limits because they’re much more influenced by Latin music, but to see it here is great,” said Sanchez.
The Latin Alternative tent gave the non-Latino festival-goers a taste of the sounds and rhythms Latinos are bringing to the music world. “That’s what Bonnaroo should be all about,” said Orellana, “experiencing a little bit of everything.”