El Conjunto Nueva Ola

From 8:00 p.m. November 2nd until the wee hours of November 3rd, Red Bull invites you to celebrate the holiday of El Dia de los Muertos with their festive Mapa de los Muertos fiesta in various venues across east Los Angeles.

If you think you know about El Dia de los Muertos, you may be surprised. Many assume that the holiday is simply the Mexican version of Halloween, but this is simply not the case. Whereas Halloween is all about fright, El Dia de los Muertos is all about joy.

This 3000-year-old celebration from Mexico evolved to remind us that death is a positive part of life. Skeletons in this holiday are characters that mock any fear of death instead of inciting it. Cemeteries become welcoming places for picnics where friends and family remember departed loved ones throughout the day. The holiday also includes dancing, favorite foods and special sweets, and beautifully-built altars that honor the dead.

El Conjunto Nueva Ola has created its own very modern sound, mixing the traditional rhythms of the Mexican cumbia with the catchy pop of American new wave.

Red Bull Mapa de los Muertos brings this all into play, where altars and live music are part of the party that honors the tradition. And no band is better suited to represent the Mexico of both yesterday and today than El Conjunto Nueva Ola (ECNO).

Hailing from Mexico City, ECNO’s tie to Mexican tradition begins with the band’s use of mascaras, or masks. Many will recognize these masks from the popular Lucha Libre, the Mexican “free wrestling” that dates back to the early 20th century. But masks are an even deeper iconic symbol of Mexican culture, found all the way back in their history during the days of the Aztecs.

The masks are a strong visual that certainly attract you to El Conjunto Nueva Ola’s show. But while the characters do draw you in, it’s not what keeps you there. The members of the band largely conceal their identities using those masks, and you find that it’s ECNO’s music that earns your attention and is truly the star.

El Conjunto Nueva Ola has created its own very modern sound, mixing the traditional rhythms of the Mexican cumbia with the catchy pop of American new wave. You quickly succumb to the seduction of their cumbia and then you find you also often recognize the melodies of popular songs, such as “Funky Town” by Blondie. In fact, it’s this particular tune that’s helped ECNO create their first bona fide hit with “Cumbia Town.”

There is no doubt that El Conjunto Nueva Ola is hottest when playing live. Where many bands may fail to impress outside the studio, these guys come alive when they’re in front of a crowd. They intoxicate with lengthy jam sessions where you cannot help but move to the beat that the band lays down—the combined percussion of Tacho and Hipolito, Primitivo’s slapping bass, Luzio’s raw guitar, El Raio’s melodic keyboards, and the energy of lead vocalist, Urbano.

You can almost feel their music more than hear it. Check out the heat they generate in this small club where they fuse their cumbia with Devo’s “Whip It.” Raw, but so good.

El Conjunto Nueva Ola is set to perform November 2nd at iX Tapa in Pasadena at 8 p.m. and it’s guaranteed to be a great show. Go and you’ll also enjoy DJ Frank Leopold and view an altar created by artist Ricky Garay in celebration of El Dia de los Muertos.

For more artists and venues, be sure to check out the full schedule for Red Bull’s Mapa de los Muertos. Felices fiestas!

 

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