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Pachanga Latino Music Festival: 22 May 2010 - Austin, TX

By Greg M. Schwartz 8 June 2010

It’s another beautiful Saturday in Austin as the third annual Pachanga Latino Music Festival goes down in Fiesta Gardens. Set in East Austin’s park area adjacent to Town Lake, this rising festival has become another date to circle in Austin’s ever-busy music calendar. With its eclectic lineup, scenic natural setting and low $20 price tag, the Pachanga Fest has quickly become one of the Austin music scene’s best values. The sweltering temperature reaches into the 90s in the early afternoon, but the site features several desperately needed shade spots to mitigate the heat, allowing fans to enjoy the musical fire that transpires all day long.

The availability of mango popsicles is another savior, a key ingredient amongst the other festival fare that includes the requisite tacos, aguas frescas, snow cones and cervezas. It becomes clear in the dinner hour however that the festival could use more than one taco stand, as a lengthy line forms. The beer tent also runs out of the local Austin Amber Ale in the evening, leaving patrons forced to choose amongst Budweiser products. But there wasn’t much to criticize as the festival featured a superb full day of music geared to almost every taste. Regional bands from Austin and San Antonio dominated the lineup with good reason, but it was ultimately Columbia’s Bomba Estereo who would steal the show with their evening headlining slot on the second stage.


Girl in a Coma, Hierba Stage

San Antonio’s Girl in a Coma hit the second stage around a quarter to six and rock through a high-energy set powered by the dynamic voice and guitar of 22-year-old Nina Diaz (who’s been fronting the band since she was 13)! The trio started with a punk foundation but has added in a blend of alt-rock and Latin rock influences for a unique Tex-Mex grunge sound. The band has recently released a series of EPs called Adventures in Coverland, and their upbeat take on the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is a gem, with Nina delivering some of her most powerful vocals to date. “Pleasure and Pain” from the band’s 2009 Trio B.C. is another winner, with some great alt-rock sonic flavor from Nina on guitar. Another cover of Richie Valens’ “C’mon Let’s Go” takes the pop classic and cranks it up several notches for a punkish rendition that is definitely not your father’s version of the classic tune. The crowd rocks out, loving every minute.

“Vino” shows some of the band’s versatility, starting off as a melodic ballad before shifting into a punk bridge and then a breezy swing jam where drummer Phanie Diaz (Nina’s older sister) and bassist Jenn Silva show they can turn their rhythm section on a dime. “Say”, a big rocker from the band’s 2007 debut Both Before I’m Gone brings the energy way up, as does Trio B.C.‘s “Static Mind”, which has become a surefire crowd pleaser. Nina Diaz is at her best on this electrifying tune that seems to hint at her mercurial personality, and this version stands out as it goes into a hard-rocking jam that surprisingly segues into “Ven Circa”, almost like a jam band would do. Girl in a Coma have always had strong songs, but this kind of jam shows some intriguing musical growth. This is the type of development that could help take the band to the next level if it continues. It’s not hard to imagine Girl in a Coma headlining Pachanga in the not-too-distant-future.