Posted in fiestas, music, Party, People, Puerto de la Cruz, Spain, Tenerife, Travel, tagged Canary Islands, concerts, DJ Carlos Robles, festival, Festival de Músicas Alternativas en Canarias, Festival of Alternative Music in the Canaries, garage, hip-hop, Indie rock, Jim Morrison, Latino, live, Mento, Mods, music, Puerto de la Cruz, punk rock, Quadrophenia, rap, Spain, The Killers, This Drama, White Stripes on April 20, 2009 |
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It never ceases to amaze me how effectively the Tinerfeños manage to safeguard their culture and identity.
Despite 500 years of being at the crossroads between Europe and the Americas and 50 years at the heart of mass tourism, very little of northern European or North American culture has left its mark on this society.
But what’s most surprising to me is the way in which so much mainstream music has entirely by-passed these islands. It’s not just a marked preference for Latino and traditional Canarian with the only new kids on the block being rap and hip hop, it’s the virtual absence of any reference to UK and US charts sounds everywhere outside of the bars, clubs and discos of the purpose built tourist resorts.
So when Jack suggested we should go along to the Festival de Músicas Alternativas en Canarias (‘alternative’ music festival) in Puerto on Saturday night, I joked that we might even get to hear some Indie rock.
Mento - a polished performance
Arriving at the harbour at 9.30pm for a scheduled 9pm start, the stage was still being set up and a handful of people were milling around the mixing desk so we decided to go for a stroll around town to give them Canarian time to get under way.
When we arrived back in Plaza Charco we could hear that the first of the bands had started their set and we laughed as the sounds of garage music came drifting across the fishing boats. I was close.
On stage, Mento were in full flow rocking out the volume with some throaty Jim Morrison style vocals from the lead and augmented by dry ice, lasers and a cine reel. Around us, a hundred or so twenty-somethings were foot tapping and head shaking and below the stage a tie-dyed hippie was reeling and wheeling across the space.
When Mento finished their set, DJ Carlos Robles took to the stage.
This Drama - high on energy, low on melody
Flying in the face of the traditional DJ role of setting the audience alight with heart stopping volume and epilepsy-inducing lights, Carlos slipped quietly into the shadows behind one of the stack systems and slid ‘The Killers’ onto the turntable at the sort of volume Aunty Barbara would approve of.
A quick burst of some White Stripes and an improvisation of something that sounded suspiciously close to folk and the young DJ exited as discreetly as a roadie.
Unsurprisingly, most of the audience hadn’t even spotted DJ Robles’ appearance and carried on chatting until their attention was garrotted by the livewire appearance of ‘This Drama’. To an ear shattering explosion of chords above an aggressive drum beat, these punk rockers catapulted themselves onto the stage causing a tidal wave of excitement that sucked the audience to their feet in its undercurrent.
To a backdrop of a scene from ‘Quadrophenia’ the lead vocalist pogo’d across the stage, his skin tight jeans belted below his buttocks and his sleek, black Mod hair covering one eye.
Below stage a group of lads got caught up in the euphoria and began pogo-ing and hurtling into each other like guided missiles on mescaline, desperate to disguise their dancing as anarchy (boys…).
Impressively tight timing and high energy output culminated after just one minute as the first number came to an abrupt end.
Over the next twenty minutes, This Drama belted out a dozen songs, all remarkably similar, lacking any discernible tune and each lasting no more than a minute and a half. Then they were gone.
We headed back to the car park where the usual Saturday night crowd of Puerto’s teenagers was just getting its partying off the ground and every neon-lit, alcohol filled car we passed was belting out Latino and rap.
It might be a while yet before so much of what is considered here to be ‘alternative’ makes it to mainstream gatherings like this one but it’s good to know that when it does, there’s some raw local talent waiting in the wings to be heard.
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Posted in fiestas, Life, Party, People, Spain, Tenerife, Travel, tagged "extreme sports", "Flypa 08", "Hip Hop Conga", "Los Realejos", "Socorro Beach", Amy Winehouse, band, black sand beaches, Canary Islands, Castro, cliffs, colourful, concert, Cuban, diabolos, festival, Glastonbury, hat, hip-hop, I don't feel like dancin, Latino, live, May, music, Orishas, parachutist, paragliders, paramotors, Puerto de la Cruz, Rehab, ribbon dancing, Ruzzo, salsa, Scissor Sisters, skies, Spain, Tenerife, tropical, Yotuel on May 6, 2008 |
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In the unlikely setting of a basketball court in Los Realejos Bajo on Friday night the Cuban hip hop band ‘Orishas’ took to the stage in an atmosphere of euphoria, and not until they’d gone through their entire repertoire would they leave. Even then, they were still thanking the audience and promising to return as they finally disappeared backstage. From the moment they stepped into the lights amidst tumultuous applause, whistles and screams, through a set that lasted for almost two hours (including a fake ending after which the encore lasted as long as the set had) the audience punched the sky, aerial clapped, bounced, swayed and hollered along to every number.
Formed in Cuba as one of the many hip hop bands performing in the country, Orishas achieved international recognition in 1999 and now live outside of their home country, recording their music in Paris. Adding Salsa and Latino rhythms to the hip hop, Orishas have developed a hybrid sound that goes to the feet like dancing lessons. Their lyrics celebrate the racial mix that exists in Cuba, in defiance of Castro’s colour blind manifesto.
Orishas sang, danced and entertained as if their lives depended on it. By the time they were finally close to bidding “Buenas Noches”, they climbed down into the press area to get even closer to the frenzied crowd and performed this year’s Santa Cruz Carnaval anthem, ‘Hip Hop Congo‘. Yotuel took a small boy from the audience onto his shoulders for the closing number. It was heart warming and indicative of the attitude of Orishas who had behaved all night as if every single person there was a member of the family.
Finally sated, exhausted and euphoric, they headed to the beer tent to top up fuel levels up on vodka and Red Bull to get them through the rest of their Friday night … and that was just the audience.
Suntanned, scantily-clad hippie chicks ribbon danced and sold handmade jewellery and head accessories from stalls alongside the beach while their tattooed, dread-locked boyfriends juggled diabolos around a uni-cyclist; this was Glastonbury’s Green Fields without the mud.
The sun was blazing down as it had done all weekend as I headed down the steep hill towards the idyllic cove of El Socorro. From the vantage point of the road I could see a narrow landing strip laid out along the black sand and behind it, rows of people were sunbathing. In the sand flats beyond the shore a group of bathers were lying while the sea gently lapped their bodies.
Above the beach, the sky was filled with the rainbow silks of paragliders dancing like butterflies on the warm air currents and gently floating down above the heads of the sunbathers. From the stage the Weather Girls blasted out “It’s Raining Men ” as one by one the paragliders touched down on the sand and gathered up their sails to the applause and whistles of the onlookers. In between landings, Amy Winehouse’s ‘Rehab‘ and The Scissor Sisters’ ‘I don’t feel like dancin‘ were amongst the sounds blasting out from the DJ’s decks while on stage a band tuned up in readiness for their appearance later.
It wasn’t just the fireworks this weekend that lit up the cloudless skies of Los Realejos; for the fourth year running, the municipality staged the aerial festival of FLYPA 2008 (Festival International de Parapente de Los Realejos) which, over the course of four days, saw hundreds of rainbow silk sails gliding down from La Corona to the beach of El Socorro and the harbour of Puerto de la Cruz.
The sun began to set and preparations got underway for the night’s beach party. There was to be a nocturnal paramotor show, a live band, a giant paella and more fireworks. I desperately wanted to stay but I was completely partied out by the weekend’s activities.
Reluctantly I climbed back up the hill, passing hordes of people making their way down to the party. For the first time in my life I was glad the weekend was over and I could look forward to Monday.
And in my head all I kept thinking was…there’s a whole lot more to Los Realejos than meets the sky.
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Posted in fiestas, Life, Party, People, Puerto de la Cruz, Spain, Tenerife, Travel, tagged aerial ballet, breakdancing, fairies, high wire, hip-hop, living statues, mime, Mueca Festival 2008, Plaza del Charco, Puerto de la Cruz, R & B, robots, Simon Says, street acts, Tenerife on April 8, 2008 |
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It’s a hot day. At the pharmacy the neon green sign is alternating between 11.20am and 28 °. Down at the harbour a small stage is in full sun. Stacks of speakers are vibrating to the rhythms of R & B and hip-hop that resonate around the little plaza, setting the heat haze to sound.
At the front of the stage a teenage lad in gravity-defying trousers and a crash helmet starts to spin on his head, his legs acting as balance, steering and acceleration all in one. He forward flips to his feet, sweat glistening on his neck as his body jerks to the rhythm.
High above the harbour a man is sitting on the arm of a crane playing the flute. His oversized trousers and waistcoat give him away as a clown and his Pied Piper flute is calling the Sunday strollers to follow its melody to the exotic dance that is about to take place above their heads.
From the high wire two broad black cloths unfurl to the ground. She starts to climb one of the cloths gracefully and effortlessly, her left foot wraps and unwraps to form a stepped stirrup as she pulls herself higher. Once in position, she coils a cloth around each leg, hangs upside down, her legs wide to keep the cloths apart on the ground, and waits for her lover.
He furls the cloth around his waist and she begins to reel him in, slowly, provocatively, her arms weaving him ever closer until his body draws level with hers and the lovemaking can begin.
In an erotic, aerial ballet, the lovers twist and turn; his hands always on her body, her hair on fire in the sun. Below them we are transfixed; like voyeurs, our eyes cannot leave them.
On Calle Quintana a metal pirate stands with his back to the wall. His eyes are green bulbs, his cutlass is glinting in the sunlight, his chest heaves in and out with metronomic regularity. Beyond the robot, a man sits on a cardboard horse frozen in time, his white face and broad smile set, his black eyes fixed. A small boy drops fifty cents in the basket on the ground in front of him and suddenly the jockey resumes his race, his whip hand raising and falling on the horse’s flank, the reins looping and tightening as he urges his steed forward on the spot.
In Plaza del Charco two fairies sit side by side on a settee playing a silent game of Simon Says. The small one is plying her hair idly into plaits. The tall one mimics her but only twists the strands, unable to follow where Simon has led. Contemptuously, the small one opts for an easier mimic and placing her closed hands beneath the side of her head she lies down and closes her eyes. The tall one mirrors her but keeps one eye open. The wide eyed little girls watching the show giggle at the antics of the inept fairy.
Under the laurel tree, a wood elf is dancing and beneath the canopy, children’s faces are being transformed into tigers, daisies and butterflies.
This is Puerto de la Cruz and this is Mueca.
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