I can’t ever remember being excited about Lumanaria’s musical lineup. This year? Different story. Local musicians to be featured in the annual city-engaging arts free-for-all include Alyson Alonzo, The Bolos, Buttercup and Chris Sauter (now postponed to Nov 7), D.T. Buffkin and Femina-X.
Facing some weather complications this year, Lumanaria organizers issued a statement reassuring patrons the festival “is a rain-or-shine event and will still occur as scheduled, but with modifications to ensure the safety of attendees, artists, volunteers and all those participating in the festival.”
For updates, visit http://luminariasa.org
San Antonio Museum of Art is the central location of this year’s festivities and the spectacle will stretch down to Maverick Park. Sobre Sound had the chance to ask a handful of the featured local bands some questions. Here’s what they said...
It isn’t very often that one stumbles upon a group of musicians who are both incredibly talented and humble as hell. Even more seldom does one find musicians whose pretentious air is equal parts ironic, hysterical, witty and poignant. Buttercup is one of my favorite groups to see live because they are poetic in a digestible way and approachable despite the fact that one of them has a Grammy.
Buttercup will be performing a piece titled “Plato’s Drums.” They have built a giant free-standing wall in an abandoned space and are working with artist Chris Sauter to create an actual sized replica of Buttercup’s drumset. The sculpture is composed of 300+ individual pieces cut out of the wall, the result of hours of labor and much sweat and DNA. Buttercup will now be performing at a later date due to weather conditions - stay posted for details.
Sobre Sound: “Often times in your performances the stage setup and atmosphere are equally important to the music itself – more of a storytelling experience than just a ‘show.’ What goes through your mind when you are planning for an upcoming show? What story are you trying to tell this time?”
Erik Sanden (Buttercup): “I always ask myself what would I want to see - how would I want to be surprised or moved. Good performance is like a good song - with all the accompanying movements: a solid hook, a bridge, and swoops and swells and a surprise or two is often nice.”
“‘Plato’s Drums’ is a nod to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave where a group of men are shackled to a wall and cannot see what is going on behind them. They only see shadows on the wall cast by the puppeteers behind, so Buttercup wrote several new songs and re-recorded a few other old songs to fit this theme. Our songs for the piece are about misinterpretation, blindness, the ego and drumming. One is about Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan.”
Buttercup’s song "Anti-antarctica” done in collaboration with Chris Sauter.
Femina-X is a group that has morphed, grown and gained much attention over the past year. With an intoxicating combination of hypnotic guitar melodies provided by Alex Paul Scheel of Pop Pistol and “Bjork-esque" vocals from front woman Daniela Riojas. Heavily electronic, the group has recently added a violinist to the mix which clearly excited my string-loving soul.
SS: “Can you tell me a bit of what people will see at your Lumanaria performance? Is there a conscious effort to differentiate it from other performances?”
Daniela Riojas (Femina-X): “Yes we are basically revamping our entire set and doing songs with all live instruments rather than electronic tracks. We are still using electronic samples but the core of everything has gone into pure heart feeling within us. The most exciting aspect of this set for us is that we have full freedom to explore the songs spontaneously.”
“As rehearsals unfolded, we began hearing ethnic, tribal, and Latin flavors begin influencing the interpretations of the songs and suddenly we were just turning off the tracks and playing everything live and feeding off these new grooves. It was very unexpected but very beautiful and now we have whole new missions and approaches to playing each song.”
SS: “Lumanaria is founded on the idea of metaphorically ‘lighting up’ the city. How do you plan on incorporating this theme into your performance?”
Riojas: “We'll have some fabric, wind and light sculptures on stage with us, but also our good friend and visual artist/musician Christopher Craddock has been compiling these really amazing videos that go with each song thematically and even with every movement to the songs. Every collaborator is now feeding the music with their own visions, which I think makes the experience inherently multi-dimensional and emotional.”
Riojas performs “INKA” in Columbia during a recent trip:
Femina-X performs at 10:20 p.m. on Stage 2.
Lead singer of Sugar Skulls, co-collaborator of the recent hip-hop project, Ghetto Prom, and all around sweetheart, Ayson Alonzo, has a voice so enveloping, it carries itself. Rather than grandiose additions or intricate choreography, Alyson is approaching her Lumanaria set with an intentional simplicity meant to resonate rather than overwhelm. And so, Alyson admits, she is “going to take a TV tray and my looper and pray for the best.”
SS: “As a musician and artist, how do you think Lumanaria and your participation within it affects the community? (both the artistic community and the local population)
Alyson Alonzo: “After spending some time away from home, I have a tremendous respect and admiration for the art/music community in this city. Since I started going to shows in late 2008, I’ve seen [San Antonio] grow so much. We’re really thriving and I’ve never felt more proud. I never meant to put myself at any type of forefront for the LGBQT community here in town but it feels pretty good to be representing myself with complete honesty as an openly gay woman in the music community. I feel like I’ve come a long way since I was fresh out of high school and afraid to come out of the closet because I was afraid that I was going to hell and that everyone was going to hate me. Now I just don’t care. I’m gay and I sing and people like when I sing gay songs about being gay. It’s that simple. Being asked to play a big show like Luminaria really just reminds me that I’m doing the right thing with my life.”
Alyson Alonzo performing at Texas Public Radio
Alyson performs at 7:30 p.m. on Stage 2.
Arguably the grittiest of the bunch, The Bolos are holding it down for the blues rockers and booze lovers. Sounding like a southerner's kind-of rockabilly-inspired dream, the group is bringing indie vibes with enough punk rock energy to get even your eldest relative jumping (if still able). Hard to classify or define, I can’t help but think of a revamped soundtrack to Cry Baby when listening to their EP.
SS: “Can you tell me a bit of what people will see at your Lumanaria performance?”
Osita Anusi (The Bolos): “We've been working closely with a local artist Tyler Brackenburry on visuals for the performance. We've also enlisted the help of a few local talents to help us with a surprise that'll end the party just right.”
SS: “What went through your mind when preparing for this show? What story are you trying to tell?”
Anusi: “When preparing we just wanted to make it a spectacle; something that would make people say, ‘Who are those kids and what just happened?’ There is no real story we're trying to tell and we don't really have an agenda. The Bolos just want to make it an amazing experience for everyone involved.”
“We're just that, musicians. None of us in the band have an art background whatsoever, so having the chance to be billed with actual artists from all over the world is pretty mystifying. It also gives us a chance to be more creative by having to come up with another aspect to our show has made us all think differently about what the songs really mean and how we'd like them to be perceived.”
The Bolos perform at 11:20 p.m. on Stage 2.
For a full schedule of performances here.