After losing its 2020 edition due to the pandemic, Ruido Fest is roaring back for its annual three-day run in Chicago.
“Ruido” means “noise” in English, and there will be plenty of musical exuberance Friday through Sunday at Union Park, once again the site for this alternative Latin music festival, with appearances by powerhouses such as Cafe Tacuba, Caifanes, Ivy Queen and Panteon Rococo.
The three locally based promoters of Ruido Fest — Metronome Chicago, Riot Fest Presents and Star Events — have scaled down the event this year due to COVID-19. Instead of the usual 50-plus acts on three stages, there will be 31 acts on two stages. Attendees will need to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test (within 72 hours prior) for admittance. Masks will be encouraged at enclosed spaces, such as the VIP tent. “As usual at Ruido, we make sure the area is safe and clean,” said Max Wagner of Metronome Chicago. “We’re trying to produce the best possible customer experience.”
The pandemic caused one headliner, Argentina’s Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, to drop out because of travel and logistical issues. But the group promises to return for Ruido 2022. “I’m really excited by the headliners, but also by our local artists, such as Rosalba Valdez or Evil Empire,” Wagner said. “If we’re not trying to grow the scene here, then we’re not doing our job.”
So let’s bring the noise — here are 10 must-see acts at Ruido 2021, in chronological order:
Los Amigos Invisibles, 6:15-7:15 p.m. Friday, Ruido Stage: Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Venezuelan alternative Latin trio leans heavily on funk and other dance-based genres, declaring, “We’re a party band, first and foremost.”
Silverio, 7:15-8 p.m. Friday, Tecate Stage: Known for his showmanship and flamboyant lucha libre attire, the Mexican rocker likes to “bring something new to the table.” Silverio performed at the first Ruido Fest in 2015 (where he stole the show, according to the site Remezcla, “with his bonkers mix of sequins, dirty electronica and a vocabulary that would make a sailor blush”); he’s returned for every event since, and in the process, has become Ruido’s mascot, like GWAR has been for Riot Fest.
Caifanes, 8-9:45 p.m., Friday, Ruido Stage: The godfathers of Latin rock, the Mexican band emerged in the mid-’80s and never looked back. In 1995, the group morphed into the equally acclaimed Jaguares, and 16 years later, reclaimed the mantle of Caifanes. By any name, expect excellence.
Mexican Institute of Sound, 3:45-4:30 p.m. Saturday, Tecate Stage: Fronted by DJ and producer Camilo Lara, this electro-cumbia project creates “irresistible beats for the global dance floor.” Between gigs, Lara juggles myriad assignments, including a stint as a musical consultant for Disney-Pixar’s “Coco” (2017). Ed O’Brien of Radiohead calls him “The Mexican Herb Alpert,” and Lara himself on his bio page remarks in wry understatement: “He stays busy.”
Enjambre, 5:15-6 p.m. Saturday. Tecate Stage: Originally from Orange County, California, this band of three brothers and two friends moved to Mexico City shortly after they formed their group in 2007. “Classic rock is always in the back of our minds — part Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin,” said guitarist Javier Mejia. “Plus, romantic songs reminiscent of the ’60s and ’70s. We like to mix our sounds.”
Ivy Queen, 6-7 p.m. Saturday, Ruido Stage: Hailed as “The Queen of Reggaeton” ever since she emerged on the scene in the late ’90s, the Puerto Rican-born, New York-reared diva stands tall (even without her trademark stilettos) in a male-dominated genre. She also hosts the recently launched, 10-episode podcast “Loud: The History of Reggaeton,” produced by Spotify and Futuro Studios.
Moenia, 7-8 p.m. Saturday, Tecate Stage: Formed in 1991, the influential Mexican synth-pop group draws its inspiration from ’80s British bands such as the Cure and New Order.
Panteon Rococo, 8-9:45 p.m., Saturday, Ruido Stage: The Mexican ska band, founded in 1995, has called itself “the guacamole of Latin music … smooth and tasty.” And speaking of smooth, how many bands could negotiate the intricacies of “Sobreviviré,” Panteon Rococo’s 2020 reworking of the 1970s anthem “I Will Survive,” which segues from ska, cumbia, disco, norteno to arena rock, all without a false step. “Yo viviré, yo viviré!”
Ambar Lucid, 6:15-7 p.m. Sunday, Ruido Stage: Born in New Jersey to Dominican and Mexican parents, the singer-songwriter has arrived like a comet, with Pitchfork, Rolling Stone and the New York Times singing her praises. Now just 20, she displays a wisdom beyond her years on her newly released EP “Get Lost in the Music.”
Cafe Tacuba, 8-9:45 p.m. Sunday, Ruido Stage: Over its 32-year run, the Mexican quartet Cafe Tacuba has thrown virtually every traditional Mexican style — son, norteno, ranchera, bolero, cumbia — into its alt-Latin mix, layered over a foundation of guitar rock. If Caifanes is the godfather of Latin rock, then Cafe Tacuba is the Goodfellas, not in the Martin Scorsese sense, but more for its antic spirit that pervades every performance.
Laura Emerick is a local freelance writer.