The first half of Day 2 at Los Dells was marked by a steady downpour, but nevertheless, a determined, umbrella-armed crowd of more than 10,000 “Delleros” tread through muddying expanses to catch fifteen acts on four stages.
The fans’ persistence was rewarded after the clouds and rain departed and the variety of the musical offerings matched that of Day 1, with sounds ranging from French-Colombian Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s artful experiments to Eliades Ochoa’s classic Cuban songs from his Buena Vista Social Club days to the thrilling finale featuring trap superstar Bad Bunny, salsa legend Victor Manuelle and Regional Mexican luminaries La Banda MS.
5 Takeaways From Day 2 at Los Dells:
1. Though a mechanical rodeo bull and bucolic outdoor setting may give Los Dells a country fair flair, festival-goers were treated to performances with polished, top-of-the-line production, with full ensembles of dancers and intricate choreography onstage and sophisticated screen visuals accompanying the music.
2. A powerful current of feminism ran through the music on Day 2 at Los Dells, with performances by Dominican experimental performance artist Jarina de Marco, beloved alt roquera Andrea Echeverri of Aterciopelados and reggaetonera Karol G. Each act, in their every different ways, directly approached the topic of the perils and promise of Latina women. Jarina de Marco, in an elaborate theatrical set with two dancers, sang about being “malcriada” (having “bad manners”) and also explored the negative aspects of colorism in Latin societies. Echeverri sang about loving every bit of your body no matter how “imperfect” it could be by societal standards, from one’s belly to bosom and beyond. Karol G turns the tables on reggaeton’s machismo with an idea of empowerment that is in a class of its own.
3. It was once again a day with something for every kind of fan, with a balance to the more traditional side of Latin music provided by the luminous atmospheric grooves of Tijuana’s Mint Field, Gabriel Garzon-Montano’s sonic landscapes and neo-soul troubadour Omar Apollo. And some performances became huge sing-alongs, as several generations now know (and shouted at the top of their lungs) tunes created by veteranos of alt rock en español like Colombia’s Aterciopelados and Mexico City’s El Haragan y Compañia and Molotov.
4. The legendary Víctor Manuelle sang that “salsa takes away sadness,” and the fans danced in agreement as they enjoyed his soaring vocals and a set list that spanned 25-years and included his recent refreshing of venerable salsa beats by adding urban grooves courtesy of Bad Bunny.
But the end of Manuelle’s set was one for the history books: to the audience’s delight, the artist showed off his soneo skills, improvising verses for almost 15 minutes in which he celebrated the “wonderful people for Latin America” who had made it all the way to Los Dells, with repeated shoutouts to fans who had withstood thunderstorms and mud to make it to his set.
5. Bad Bunny converted “I Like it,” his hit with Cardi B and J Balvin, into an anthem for Latinos in one of Los Dells’ most explicit political moments. In the course of the song, he proclaimed respect for the Dreamers, los soñadores, and Latinos who work for their family’s good with “the sweat of their brow,” proclaiming that “wherever I go in the world, there are Latinos there supporting and working towards their future.”
Throughout Day 2, artists echoed Bad Bunny and mirrored the mood at Los Dells.
From the top of the a hill where the illuminated large letters of the fest’s name gleamed, the beautifully-lit expanse of forest to either side of the festival campus held thousands of fest-goers in revelry for the better part of the last three hours of Los Dells. As the fans happily twirled and danced salsa and cumbia and pasitos in the fields left muddy by the rain, they seemed to also celebrate that where’s there’s rain, there’s always the possibility of rainbows.