(The following article was translated from Spanish to English by Revolver Staff.)
I find it difficult to concentrate when writing about “Conmoción.” Provocación (provocation), contusión (contusion), ensoñación (fantasy), fascinación (fascination), vibración (vibration), canción (song), explosión (explosion). They’re all words that not only rhyme with the band’s name, but also form part of what this eclectic group generates.
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This month I’ve been to at least five Banda Conmoción shows. In these, I’ve accumulated four bruises, sweaty clothes, and feelings of always – always– having had a great time.
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If I said 19 musicians were playing brass instruments on stage and that a large part of the band’s repertoire is instrumental, you’d probably picture something quite different from a show by the “Esenciales” (Essentials). Now, if I ask you to mix the best elements of gypsy music, then add in some northern cumbia and some klezmer, the picture might become clearer.
But Banda Conmoción is much more than that. It could be because they come from the theater (Mendicantes Theater Company), because their clothing is so detailed, because of the flares used during shows, because of how the saxophones, trumpets, cymbals and even the tuba rouse the crowd. Or maybe it’s because of the figurines that spontaneously incite the crowd or the non-stop energy of the popular festivals they take part in.
Every time I see Conmoción I end up looking like a fool as I stare and watch the musicians’ hand movements. It’s because Sapito, Ximena, Italove, Bárbara and Dokko (trumpets), Germán and Felipe (trombones), Robinson (saxhorn, trombone), Daniel (accordion), Pepe Maikol and Fecci (saxophones), Carlos and Carlos (clarinets), Huevo (bass drum, voice, band director), Pablo and Jeca (cymbals, minor percussions), Alexander (timpani, music box), Jorge (tambourine and conga) and Héctor (tuba), along with Mago (sound engineer) and Diego (sound engineer and technician) not only have talent, but also years of playing together.
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One can become fascinated with not only the music, the wicked hips of the cymbalist or the gypsy-like moves of Jeca, but also with the clarinet and saxophone solos, the simulated state of drunkenness as the sound of the tuba resonates in your head, or even the figurine giving away aguardiente to the crowd. On top of it all, add the trumpet players' costumes and the sheer disorder as spectators jump to the beat of the music.
Since seeing Conmoción is so many things, it’s hard to imagine what their debut CD is like. Pregonero, an independent production, had to overcome several obstacles before it went on sale in November: recording errors in the track that lends its name to the compact disc, finding out about editing problems just a few days before the release, and simply getting the 21 different personalities that make up the band to agree during the production.
With an ever-growing number of performances, Conmoción presents itself as a spectacle that cannot be missed if you love music. It’s not even necessary for you to like any of the musical styles previously mentioned. You only need to be willing to surrender yourself to this hallucinatory and magical event that's almost out of place in Santiago.
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Conmoción, I dare say, is one of the most preferred performers at the Galpon Victor Jara venue, along with Juana Fe and Chico Trujillo. The band is a guaranteed hit at any street performance, social fundraising party, wedding or even funeral. Its roots are as varied as its followers, ranging from youngsters to adults with any number of musical tendencies. They support causes such as the defense of the imprisoned Mapuches, the “No to Pascua Lama” movement and the “Patagonia Without Dams” group.
Their shows have become one of the most frenetic, demented and, clearly, essential shows in today’s Santiago music scene. And if you don’t believe it, you need only listen to the classic chant from their fans: “Si no hay Conmoción, quemaremos esta cuestión” (If there’s no Conmoción, we’ll burn this place down).