Primavera Fauna Brings Spring to Santiago

Saturday, November 24th marked Santiago's second annual Primavera Fauna festival. The international music festival, held at Santiago’s own Espacio Broadway, featured three stages. The International Stage showcased international artists like Jose Gonzalez and the much-anticipated Pulp. The Latin American stage served as the vibrant backdrop for shows by national acts like Astro and Francisca Valenzuela, as well as artists like Colombia’s Bomba Estéreo. As an alternative to these sounds, the poolside DJ stage never stopped pumping euphoric beats.

José Gonzalez (Photo by M. Consuelo Ulloa)
José Gonzalez (Photo by M. Consuelo Ulloa)

Despite not yet achieving the scale of massive, Lollapalooza-style festivals, the second annual Primavera Fauna left us craving more, even after 12 musical hours. Some inconveniences are inevitable at any festival: this year's show experienced some sound problems. The aggravating slowness of the staff at the bars and food stalls left many hungry and thirsty. Long waiting times for buses revealed a general lack of planing on the part of the organizers. Nevertheless, Fauna Productions proved that a grand-scale festival in Chile can be a success with the Chilean crowds offering an enthusiastic response to both national and international artists.

From the artists, to the crowds, to the incomparable backdrop provided by the Andes Mountains, Primavera Fauna is an absolutely unmissable event for anyone interested in Chile’s music scene.

Here are some of Revolver's highlights from Primavera Fauna 2012:

Alex Anwandter: Chilean electropop solo artist Alex Anwandter, formerly the vocalist and mastermind behind Teleradio Donoso, was given the challenge of kicking-off the show as the very first to perform on the Latin stage. While Alex's former project, Teleradio Donoso, exuded the lively, piano-pop feel of a lyrically driven Chilean Ben Folds Five, Alex’s solo work takes a more electronic angle on the same theme. Synth piano tunes layer over a quintessential R&B rhythm. Despite his early set time, Anwandter owned the stage, covering it with dancing leaps that inspired copycats in the audience. Combining his new and quickly embraced single 'Tatuaje' with some of Teleradio Donoso’s best, like 'Bailar y Llorar', Anwandter set the perfect mood for the rest of the day.

Francisca Valenzuela: A beacon of empowerment for Latin American women, Francisca Valenzuela is arguably the most renowned up-and-coming Chilean artist. Her popularity transcends national boundaries as she begins to make the difficult leap towards North American recognition. She took the stage to girlish squeals (emitted from male and female fans alike), wielding an unprecedentedly sweet-yet-sexy romantic pop diva ensemble and a giant drum mallet. While a tenured member of the Chilean music scene might find Valenzuela's performance a little monotonous, her perfect voice charged through her lyrics and her crowd interaction was, as always, incredibly dynamic. This, accompanied by her massive stage presence, resulted in a quality show. While not the most anticipated artist of the festival, her faithful fans gladly welcomed Valenzuela’s participation, enthusiastically requesting song after song.

Francisca Valenzuela (Photo by M. Consuelo Ulloa)
Francisca Valenzuela (Photo by M. Consuelo Ulloa)

José Gonzalez: “My first trip to Chile was when I was 7,” the Argentinian-Swedish singer-songwriter told Revolver Magazine. Gonzalez is no stranger to Chile’s shores, having performed at the Normandie in Santiago in 2007. The sheer number of people packed in front of the International Stage for his set suggests his lasting popularity. The crowd, listening to the singer drift through his autumnal discography, was gripped by an almost irreverent silence and stillness. In the midst of a decidedly energetic and upbeat festival, comprised mostly of rock and electronic bands, José Gonzalez provided a quieter and more meditative tone that resonated with a subtle, yet profound energy. Gonzalez mused to Revolver after the set, “I’ve played other festivals, but never one surrounded by mountains. In terms of scenery, there is no equal.”

Astro: Bursting onto the Latino stage, Astro began a set of modern, well-tread sounds that immediately invigorated the crowd. With their new album recently featured on NPR's coveted first-listen page, Astro joins rank with Francisca Valenzuela as they start to break into North American musical consciousness. Group members Octavio, Zeta, and Lego, boasting fittingly unique names and even fluffier hair, pounded out a barrage of tribal beats behind Andrés Nusser's warbling cascade of distinct vocals. Their full sound seemed larger than the stage and was personified accurately by convulsive masked dancers, balloon animals, and of course, the boys' own colorful thrift-store ensembles. The performance, from one of the most notable Chilean bands of the last few years, exceeded all expectations.

Astro (Photo by M. Consuelo Ulloa)
Astro (Photo by M. Consuelo Ulloa)

Bomba Estéreo: With a well-defined Latin rhythm, a pompous, colorful dress and a Columbian flag painted on her face, Liliana Saumet, voice and creator of Bomba Estereo’s catchy lyrics, conquered the stage at Primavera Fauna. Her charismatic presence spread like a virus through the crowd, as everyone seemed compelled to jump along with her rap-electronic-cumbia fusion. Bomba Estéreo, enjoying its leap to widespread recognition in the Latin music world, is no stranger to music festivals, having previously performed at Lollapalooza in Chile and Bonnaroo in Tennessee, among others. The set focused on material from their new album, Elegancia Tropical. With the new material, the group takes their own familiar sound, as well as the essence of the genre, and turns these tones into something unprecedented and exciting.

Illya Kuryaki and The Valderramas: Despite a small hiccup with the sound at the beginning of their set (an inconvenience handily overcome), Illya Kuryaki and The Valderramas took to the stage with a kitchy fervor that reminded us all of their status as an indisputable nineties icon. The loyal masses were eager to hear the classics and danced happily to the newer singles as well. Murmurs in the crowd revealed much excitement about the new material. The set was a presentation charged with funky, sometimes melancholy, rap. The group rode a consistent medium-energy wavelength until reaching the pinnacle moment - an explosion of excitement elicited by "Coolo," one of their most beloved songs. The infectious and beloved ballad penetrated the barrier between the stages. The crowd already smushed to the point of implosion at the International Stage in anticipation of Pulp enthusiastically joined in the compulsive chanting of the well-known lyrics that ensued.

Jorge González: By the time Jorge González took the stage, most of the crowd was fighting for a good spot to see Pulp at the Virgin Mobile International stage. Nevertheless, Gonzales impressed his loyal fans with a magnetic interpretation of his album Corazones, presented in its entirety. With his nostalgic, eighties sounds, Jorge González remains a medium through which the audience returns to the successes of a generation marked by passion, suffering and a fair share of controversy. Gonzalez's incredible sound cannot exist in a vacuum. The fibers of his music fuse with the strings of Chile's complicated history of social and political tension, and his music continues to empower the country's revolutionary youth.

Pulp:? Expectant, crunched to the point of lacking oxygen, anxious and ready to see an international icon. Most audience members seemed nervous for the live experience of the band that wrote the soundtrack to their adolescence. Chile had never before seen the members of Pulp preform together; lead singer Jarvis Cocker previously visited the country alone. With his incomparable voice, Cocker and the band perfectly achieved their quintessential sound. Witnessing the set sent much of the crowd on an emotional journey back to college or high school - their first loves and true pains - escorted by lyrics which underscored their varying emotions. To summarize the show is to understate its magnificence.

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