Xemumba ’08 Afterthoughts

The Latin music festival known as Xemumba can best be summarized as an audio/visual extravaganza that takes hold of your senses and never lets go. One minute you’re sipping on a beer listening to the latest salsa coming out of Cuba, and then your running upstairs to watch the UT ballet folklorico cuttin’ a rug. Oh and then you have tasty South American treats to munch on, while watching a Spanish documentary made by local film makers. Xemumba even had opportunities to help out less fortunate young hispanic girls in the community. Not impressed yet? After the jump is a quick review of each band we saw on Friday at the festival with photos (Saturday unfortunately was postponed to a later date. We’ll of course let you know when the event is rescheduled). 

The Crying Monkeys (6:30pm) Local Austin act, The Crying Monkeys, featured 3 classical guitars, a nylon stringed mandolin, a tambourine, and what looked like a clarinet. Classical Latin music was the key word to start off Xemumba. These guys create pleasant to the ears traditional latin jazz/string music. They can usually be found around town playing places like Elephant Room or Momo’s.



Ballet Folklorico (6:45pm) The dancers from UT put on quite a performance on the upstairs lounge of Mohawk during The Crying Monkeys set. You can see from the pictures how beautiful the performers looked in their brightly colored hispanic dresses. An hombre even did some numbers performing with dual machetes. Yikes!



Latin at Heart (7pm) Latin at Heart can best be described as a Spanish version of Muse or even Foreigner with some classical guitar. You can find them playing at Momo’s on a regular basis. The lead guitar player of the band can shred your face off!




Mariachi Revolcuión (7:15pm) I think the name says it all on this one. Mariachi music at its best and finest. We really had to pick and choose on the photos from the Mariachi’s dance inducing set. The band looked like the real deal in their slick brown suits with gold buttons and huge Spanish style sombreros.



Academicos da opera (8pm) Hands down, the highlight of the evening. Academicos combined the visual pleasing elements (dancers, matching uniforms, whistling director) along with a masterful audio presentation. Imagine an enormous group of blue shirt wearing people banging on various size drums creating beats never heard before anywhere in this country. These guys were worth the price of admission.



Son 5 (8:30pm) Winner of the prize for best female vocals of the night. Son 5 brings the newest salsa music right out of Cuba. Anyone in the crowd who wasn’t dancing, was thinking about it in the back of their mind. The band’s female lead singer had some amazing depth and range to her voice.



Cienfuegos (8:45pm) Cienfuegos brought more salsa music to the outside stage while adding some piano along with a killer horn player. Dancers from Salsa Candela were showing people how it’s done.




Piñata Protest (10pm) One of the big surprises of the festival and a nice change of pace. Piñata Protest blend some parts Flogging Molly, a bit of punk, a dash of Spanish vocals mixed in with a big helping of lead accordion. It was loud, fast and very entertaining.




Los Bad Apples (11pm) Los Bad apples are a major fixture in the Austin area. They mix elements of traditional Latin pop music with more modern hip-hop and rap. They were the most experienced festival band and the tightness of their live set shows that.




To view all of our pictures from the festival, visit our Xemumba ’08 album on Flickr. You can always click on any of the thumbnails above to view a larger picture.

Enough said. Xemumba was quite the event and I can’t wait till next year. (or until the cancelled Saturday shows are rescheduled)


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