Taco Libre Fest
With Ozomatli, Deep Blue Something, TEAM*, Pinata Protest, Dustin Cavazos, Party Static and Valise
Main Street Garden Park, Dallas
Saturday, June 27, 2015
There's a first time for everything. For instance, Deep Blue Something — back together again and getting ready to release a new EP — probably haven't ever had to compete with Lucha Libre wrestlers to get their fans' attention. Hell, there's probably also never been Lucha Libre wrestling in Main Street Garden Park. But when all was said and done come Saturday night, the first-ever Taco Libre Fest was an undeniable success.
The concept was certainly a novel one — tacos, live music and wrestling in downtown Dallas, all for the price of $12 (plus $2 per taco and, well, more than that for beer) — but even the organizers seemed surprised by the turnout. The festival, which opened its gates at 2 p.m., was already sold out by 4:30, and even after it had hit capacity there was a line of people waiting to get in that wrapped around the block.
Apparently people like tacos. (Tell us something we don't know, right?)
The star of the day was undoubtedly the Lucha Libre wrestling. For those who hadn't ever experienced it before (which was most of the crowd), it was pure insanity. Normally these guys are performing for crowds that number in the teens, but for one night the world of the Gaston Bazar II was transported from a warehouse to the middle of downtown Dallas, and the folks at Taco Libre ate it up.
This was supposed to be a sideshow, something to help keep fans occupied between sets, but instead there were often bigger crowds over by the wrestling ring than there were at the main stage when one of the bands were getting ready to play. Children, teens and adults alike ooed and awed to the masked men's choreographed moves. Hardcore wrestling fans tried to get various chants going. Many just stood taking in the bizarre scene around them, bewildered by something that occurs in Mexico, and in Mexican neighborhoods in the United States, on a weekly basis.
As a result, the music tended to feel like something of an afterthought at Taco Libre, which was definitely the festival's biggest flaw. After all, it was billed as a music and food fest, not a wrestling festival. The lineup was delightfully diverse, but maybe it shouldn't have been. The bands the elicited the most response were the acts with a Latin tinge. Pinata Protest caused a conga line to break out in the afternoon sun, Dustin Cavasos had people dancing despite their taco induced comas, and headliner Ozomalti had the salsa dancing break out to their funk-heavy set. Salsa dancing is the only dancing that doesn’t make men look bad, and I fully support we as a society embracing it as the only form of socially acceptable dancing.
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This is what you want when you go to a festival like this: You want to dance, you want to embrace all aspects of the culture around you, and not in the “spend $10 on a sombrero” sort of way. But some of the other bands seemed to suffer through not fault of their own. Party Static is a fun band whose live show is one of the better things that happens in Dallas nightclubs, and Team* would make sense at most any other show booked by Kirtland Record (who organized Taco Libre), but it didn't make much sense for them to be there. They simply didn’t fit the atmosphere. Next year they would do well to figure out exactly what musical identity this festival wants to have.
The best answer is that maybe, just maybe, they should turn hard into the the skid and dive headfirst into the culture. Sure, they already sold out their first year, and the second year will probably be even bigger and better. But it wouldn't hurt to make the decision between watching a masked man crotch chop and listening to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” a little bit harder.