Friday, November 11, 2011

Personal Fest

Last weekend (Nov 4 & 5) Personal (as in the phone company) Fest, the three day concert/festival, returned to Club GEBA Sede San Martin after a year hiatus. I didn't really know what to expect from the "festival" because many times much liberty is given with the naming of things, for example customer service and promotion. Actually it ended up being one of the best shows I've ever been to, and one of my favorite events in Argentina. It wasn't hugely publicized, but I found an ad for it online in October and noticed Damian Marley was playing so I was in. The festival was 3 days, each of which lasted several hours and hosted a super famous headliner (this year the first was Lenny Kravitz, the second was The Strokes and Beady Eyes and the last/best was INXS, Sonic Youth and Calle 13) along with many other lesser known performers. In the years since it started (in 2004), there have been a variety of amazing artists including Blondie, The Mars Volta, Duran Duran, The Black Eyed Peas, Cypress Hill and Snoop Dogg. Three day tickets were available (but not in my budget), and I was only interested in Damian Marley and Calle 13 anyway so it was great they were playing on the same day. The single day tickets were A$220, and if you were a Personal Club member (aka wireless customer with a points account) you got a 25% discount, so it only ended up being A$165.
Naturally, because we are in Argentina, a few aspects of the show were sort of strange. The first is that Motorola actually sponsored the show, but they kept the name Personal Fest because of the legacy (pretty generous of Motorola if you ask me.) Another is that the opening day of the show, which Lenny Kravitz headlined, was October 2, but the other 2 days of the show were in November. Huh? And though I already knew this, I'm still shocked so I repeat, no alcohol sold at concerts! Ahhh, well, Argentina.
The tickets said the festival started at 5, so we aimed to get there around 6. When we got within 5 blocks of the place, there were crowds walking toward the festival from all directions, the first good sign. The entrance had a proper festival entrance arch, and by the I got inside I was assured it was going to be great.
As soon as we were inside someone was handing out party horns. Although it was very early and still light when we arrived, the festival mood was on with glow sticks, balloons, clowns, booths with games and giveaways and more. We walked around collecting free goodies, taking pictures (in a foam pit and with a giant balloon dog) and otherwise checking the place out. The festival especially spoiled Personal customers, offering special giveaways like a party tool belt (including confetti, a whistle, a maraca and silly string) and the chance to play memory on a tablet (Motorola I'm sure) for a free T-shirt.
There were 4 stages in all, 1 was in a building located on the fairway, 1 was near the entrance and the biggest 2 which held the best artists were beside each other in a separate area. In the big stage area there were also food stands, and a wine promotion which consisted of small cups of wine distributed before riding a spinning ride. The best musicians weren't on until later at night so we had time to indulge in all of the other activities, which of course included eating. I was psyched to find out that unlike events in the U.S., food at the festival was reasonably priced. There were all the usual suspects - burgers, hot dogs, tacos, pizza, etc., all for around A$20. (That's only U$D 5!). There was also a shawarma stand, which both puzzled and tempted me, so I went for it. Definitely not the best I've had, but honestly not bad.
While we were waiting for Damian to come on, there was another reggae style band named Soja (English pronunciation so-jah), which was rather well known by others and well attended for an early performance. It was the first time I ever heard or heard of them, but they made a fan out of me, and I recommend you look them up.
Because the shows were on different stages, the crowd was constantly moving. We took advantage of this and camped out in front of the Motorola stage an hour early, surrounded by many dreadlocks-sporting marijuana-smoking fans, to ensure a good view. We ended up around 15 rows back in a perfect location. Damian Marley performed with an extremely talented group from Kingston, Jamaica, including 2 female back up singers with absolutely beautiful voices and a passionate flag waver. The entire performance was amazing; he was incredible live, maybe ever better than recorded (if that's possible). It was his first time in Argentina and people were crazy about him. He played a variety of his newest songs, a couple his classics and some his father's most famous songs. The show was truly one of the best I've ever seen, and now I wish I had recorded the entire thing. Watch all the videos!!!

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