Memorable Moments from the Local Scene: A Tribute to Live Music

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Written by the La La Lista Music Writers staff: Evy Duskey, Jorge Farah, Jamie Larson, Emilyann McKelvey, Ezequiel Mancilla, Pablo Pérez, Margaux Williams.

We love live music. As a publication that was essentially born out of a weekly live music agenda, the concert experience is our bread and butter. We love it all: the thrill of anticipation, the sensory overload of the inevitably-too-loud PA, the crackle of plugging into amplifiers, the smell of overworked smoke machines, even the low rumble of audience members who choose to use the show as an opportunity to have long conversations. Some of the most powerful and significant moments of our lives as consumers of culture have occurred during live shows, poignant and powerful and thrillingly life-affirming.

Live music has had a rough couple years. The Covid-19 pandemic essentially paused this vital expression of culture, temporarily transforming it into a virtual experience. As restrictions ease and the number of new cases drop, the live music experience starts making a tentative return. As of right now, individual shows are still being canceled every once in a while, but The Setlist has made a triumphant return. Live music is back in Buenos Aires. It’s changed, but it’s here. And we couldn’t be more thrilled about it. 

It’s like they say: you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Being away from live music bummed us out. So in honor of concerts and everything they’ve meant to us over the years, the La La Lista music writers have decided to share a memorable concert from the local scene that marked us somehow. This is a small sampling, of course, not a comprehensive list. It might be the first entry in a series, though we hope future installments are spurred by happier circumstances. Below is a smattering of recollections from local shows that stayed with us (note that the accompanying videos are merely illustrative; only in one case is the video actually from the show in question).

Here’s to gathering in tight quarters and shimmering and shaking together.  

Barbi Recanati, Ruiseñora, Jazmin Esquivel at Niceto Club | 23.05.2019

In the Setlist for that week, I had offered a stern recommendation: “If you’re planning on going out this week, you’d best leave the fragile masculinity at home in a safe place.” I remember greeting Marilina Bertoldi on the sidewalk outside the venue — “¡Hola genia!” And I remember Maria Pien’s observation as Ruiseñora started their set: “Ah, hay gente famosa acá.” Barbi’s set blew me away the most. I literally cried. Although intensified by substances that may or may not have been ingested in the bathroom, the overwhelming feeling of empowerment coursing through me came from the music, and the moment we all shared there that night. If you are a woman in the Argentine music scene, you will understand. I remember texting my best friend a flurry of messages, how much I loved her, how grateful I felt to be playing in a band with her, and how FUCKING INSPIRED I WAS.

Gente Conversando at Roseti | 07.03.2020

I used to practice a social experiment of sorts: mixing up a whole bunch of friends from different parts of my life that I thought might just vibe together. It was one such group that descended on Roseti for Gente Conversando’s triumphant return. My guitarist, a LLL contributor (hi Jamie!), a Canadian friend of an acquaintance whom I had met four years ago while he was visiting Buenos Aires, my ex’s ex (long story), and yet another gal pal from out of town all convened at my house to drink a beer in our patio before walking the seven blocks for the show. We were giddy with the weirdness of it all, and I had hyped up the show before we arrived — so expectations were high. But Gente Conversando more than delivered: “The band was in their top form (as always), simultaneously precise and bombastic, tense yet laissez faire.” I remember looking around at my hodgepodge of friends and noticing that not one of them stopped dancing for the entire show. Most of them made eye contact with me or another at one point or another to mouth “OH MY GOD SO GOOD.” It was the best send-off to live music we could’ve asked for. 

Emily And, Deportivo Aleman and Fanzine at Maldito Rock | 08.02.2020

Being the first month that I had arrived in Argentina, there was no better way of getting an introduction to the local music scene than by visiting a dive bar in Almagro for Festindie. Despite not knowing anyone on the bill nor anyone in the bar it was already clearly evident how tight-knit the community was by watching as followers of each artist slowly filled the tables surrounding the stage. Although I quickly found myself wondering if I had already been drinking too much, not realizing that the first performer, singer-songwriter Emily And, was singing in Spanish and English. I remember her starting with “en el invierno las cosas se complican,” an appetizer for what would follow. The driving and melodic force of Deportivo Aleman presented me the shocking and welcome realisation that there was a strong krautrock scene in BA, with killer bangers from their then newly released Manifesto. Lastly Fanzine, a mesmerizing mix between the sonic sweetness and fuzz of Dinosaur Jr and spacious soundscapes of ambient rock. Although I’ve seen many good acts since this show, these guys were one of the bands that I’ve found myself listening to again and again.

Dolores Fonzi at TAI Teatro | 13.01.2021

Everything felt normal. Almost too normal, in a weird way. We were sitting on the patio of the lovely Tai Teatro in the heart of Villa Ortúzar, about to see a band play live for the first time in months. Needless to say, I was pumped. With a crowd that seemed eager to relive the experience of live music after months and months of isolation, the climate was both exciting and surreal. Then Dolores Fonzi came out and they made us forget about the current state of the world with a set full of well-rehearsed tunes that sounded just as good as, if not better than, their eponymous 2020 album. Towards the end of the setlist, frontman Julián Tunni made the audience participate by handing out a couple of chajchas (percussive instrument typically made of sheep or goat hooves), making that solemn moment a little bit more intimate.

Lucy Patane at CC Richards | 25.07.2019

Though it belongs to a world before the pandemic struck, I can’t remember a more emblematic example of Lucy Patane’s strength in the music scene than her string of shows after the release of her self-titled debut. I went with a few friends who had heard me sing Lucy’s praises again and again. But nothing — not even listening to her album on loop for days — could prepare me for what I was about to witness. We do have a Sentimental Show Review on those shows, but for some reason the experience was deeply personal. Lucy’s rowdy and explosive sound had me open-eyed and absolutely mesmerized from the moment she stood under the spotlight, singing acapella before the whole band came crashing down on CC Richard’s small stage. Everything — from Lucy’s demented guitar lines in “Doc Sud” and Carola Zelaschi’s booming drums in “Cinturón” — had me and my friends floored and jumping along to the beat. I’m eager to see her play again, hopefully with a brand new arsenal of songs in her already lethal utility belt. 

Ofuia | Date and venue unknown

I can’t remember the year, and I can’t remember the venue. Best I can offer is an approximation: 2008-ish, some sort of converted art gallery space I think somewhere in Palermo. What I do remember is the moment it happened, a sudden flash halfway through their set, followed by a couple tentative bars of music in pitch darkness. Baroque folk band Ofuia, a group that shone brightly for a brief period before seemingly fading into obscurity, found themselves at a loss after a sudden power outage. I remember how, after a few minutes of hesitation, when it became clear to everyone that the power wasn’t coming back any time soon, the band decided to soldier on without amplification. And I remember the sound of it: violins, trumpets, drums, an accordion, a cello. The bass and guitar hopelessly lost in the soundscape, but the textural hodgepodge filled the darkened room beautifully. I remember seeing through the darkness, silhouettes swaying over the wall of the gallery, illuminated only by the traffic lights coming from outside. Unsure of who was playing what, but getting lost in it all the same. I remember the buzz from it lasting for a week.