People arrived in a huge rush to hear the Colombian super-group Aterciopelados (The Velvets), transforming the soaked crater into a tropical valley with their own brand of Electro-pop-rock. Andrea Echeverri, the quirky and vocally inventive rocker, worked the crowd into a frenzy with 'Baracunatana', 'No Necesito' (I Do Not Need) and 'Cosita Seria' (Serious Small Thing), from their successful album "La Pipa De La Paz (Peace Pipe)", which received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Latin Rock Album in 1997.
Rebellious Bogota society girl, Echeverri, 32, hailed by critics as Latin America's best rock singer and Hector Buitrago, ex-bassist from the legendary hardcore band, La Pestilencia (The Pestilence), came together in 1990. Their debut album "Con El Corazón En La Mano" (With a Heart in the Hand) was released in 1993 and made them one of the most popular bands in Columbia. The second album "El Dorado" brought them international recognition and they recorded an unplugged session with MTV Latin America and toured with Argentinean bands Soda Stereo in the US and Héroes del Silencio in Spain.
Their third album "La Pipa de la Paz" was recorded in London with Phil Manzanera and turned silver in Columbia in 1997. After touring Latin America, they joined the boisterous Argentinean Fabulosos Cadillacs for the Rockinvasion tour of the US. Their latest 1998 contemporary pop-rock album "Caribe Atomico" (Atomic Caribbean) sees them develop a new and interesting sound with influences from Massive Attack, Bjork and Salsa music.
Echeverri, a lover of ecology, adored the idea of playing in a volcano and felt a magnetic sensation in the crater. When asked about the idea of singing in English, she pledged. "Singing in Spanish is a statement, we are proud of being Latin American, the US fucks with Latin America and we will never sing in English just to sell."
Crazy, extrovert and flowery Argentinean singer-songwriter Fabiana Cantilo playing songs from her latest paranoid album "De Qué Se Ríen?" (What Are You Laughing At?), talked excitedly of her love for animals, the ecology and of the dreamlike sensation of playing an open-air concert in such spectacular surroundings. Born in Buenos Aires, she began playing theatrical-rock 25 years ago before starting a long musical relationship with the Argentinean rock pioneer Charly Garcia, playing in a number of different bands during her career. She has released four solo albums in a modern pop-rock style with a Latin twist. "In spite of the rain and the jungle," she says jokingly. "Latin America is a child being born." Composing in English and translating to Spanish, her poetic lyrics are wary of Big Brother and the destructive force of property builders destroying nature, romantically adding, "Love can save us; it is not as easy as it could be, but hey, I'm still fighting."
A sensation of the event was the appearance of the highly respected Argentinean multi-instrumentalist Pedro Aznar, 48, former bassist with Charly Garcia's Seru-Girán and with the Pat Metheny Group. Playing in a quartet, Pedro found the views breathtaking and felt amazed and honoured to play in front of a freezing but enthusiastic crowd. Spanning decades of musical development and acknowledging many styles and genres, Aznar is considered to be musical intellectual. As a child he began studying classical guitar using the Klavarskribo notation system, he went on to study jazz piano and is particularly renowned for his technical mastery of the famous fretless bass.
Mega Chilean band, La Ley, headlined on the fourth day with a hypnotic and futuristic light show and set. Piercing white lights shining from the bands space helmets transported the public to the transcendental world of Electro-acoustic rock. Reputed for their cinematic stage shows; the band formed in the late 80s and are ending a 12-month tour. Heavily influenced by Japanese band Sakamoto, singer Alberto Cuevas, mixes social messages into the lyrics: concern for the extreme rich/poor divides, sympathy for the rebels in the jungle and criticism of the glamorisation of war.
Young, hip, Chilean funk band Los Tetas (Masculine Tits) closed the festival, giving the crowd the send off they needed for the arduous hike out of the crater; rapping, scratching and throwing funky basslines into the night. "We went from playing gigs at parties to being famous very quickly," explains singer and scratcher, TeaTime, downing a cold cupper and pulling a handful of Twinnings out of his pocket. "We've got a contract with EMI, but we are going to split and do something on an independent label like Master F."
Artists huddled back stage during Los Tetas awaiting news of the landslide that temporarily blocked the narrow road out of the crater, adding drama to the overall experience of the event. As the public climbed out of the crater, jeeps and trucks transported the artists back to Quito along the spectacular, but increasingly treacherous mountain roads.
Considering the socio-political background to the event, this festival marked a watershed in Ecuador rock n' roll history and judging from the enthusiasm of the crowd, the foreign press and the artists, who played for free and united in admiration for Ricardo Perotti, Pululahua 1999 hopefully marked the beginning of a great festival culture in Ecuador.
by Robert Greening © 1999.
Photography By Simon Stettner.