For the first time in 15 months, live music is returning nationwide after the global coronavirus pandemic ravaged the industry. Billboard’s “My First Fest Back” is a spin-off series of “My First Show Back,” dedicated to sharing anecdotes from the return of Chicago’s Ruido Fest for its sixth annual event.
In this installment, Ruido Fest performers Enjambre’s Luis Alberto and Angel, Lido Pimienta, Ambar Lucid and Panteón Rococó’s Dr. Shenka and Missael Oseguera discuss adjusting to a new normal; from frequent COVID tests to performing as if it was their last time (again). “Any opportunity I have to sing and play live I take it as if it’s my last time,” says Pimienta. “So that I’m ready when everything starts getting canceled again.”
Luis Alberto: We were so happy to be in Chicago, it’s a beautiful city. We love to come over every chance we get and especially if it’s to play at an event. The night before our set, some of the band members went to listen to blues.
Angel: Yeah, we went to listen to blues, eat pizza and toured around the downtown area. It’s a really interesting city with good vibes, very diverse and it’s a pleasure to visit.
Luis Alberto: It was great to be on stage again in front of an audience that was anxious to see us again just like we were anxious to see them. They were happy to see us and to see them singing along to our music again, it’s an indescribable joy. We felt comfortable playing at Ruido Fest. I wouldn’t change a thing about protocols or ask them to do something differently. Actually, it’s great that in the U.S. festivals like these can now take place where we can once again have a space to share our music.
All I could think about when I was going onstage was “vamos de nuevo con todo, entusiasmados (here we go again, we’re excited and we’re giving it our all).” Now that we’re back, it’s all about getting used to the new normal and things we have to do to stay protected. Our biggest priority is to remain safe and sound. And we’re getting used to seeing people wearing face masks, we’re getting tested for COVID every time before we travel, maintaining social distance. But none of the above will stop us from taking music to different pockets and sharing it with our fans.
I was more nervous than usual because the last time I set foot on a stage was two years ago. Before my set, I was extremely nervous but once I was on the stage, it’s as if this nervousness just left my body. It was really hot so I got tired pretty fast.
Being back just made me feel super inspired and feel passionate about my craft. After not performing live for two years, I had this pressure to not only sing well but to please the crowd. But the energy that the Latinx fans bring speaks for itself and the love they have to offer is always there. That helped alleviate the pressure.
It was also an Aquarius full moon the day I performed. I also have three Aquarius placements in my birth chart so I felt the qualities of Aquarius extra that day: optimistic, creative, intuitive, strong willed and free spirited.
Missael Oseguera: The day before Ruido Fest, we were feeling a lot of excitement and very relaxed too. We were really eager to go out and perform, wondering what it would be like to be back and remember what we were doing months ago that for us was routine.
Ever since our last show, it’s like I’ve been on stand by or like if I was hibernating. And now I’ve been woken up again. But I think 20 minutes before jumping onstage, it really hit us. I personally started feeling anxiety and started panicking obviously more with COVID because back in Mexico not all of our family members are vaccinated. And to see so many people without masks, singing, it personally made me feel anxious and scared. But once I was onstage, it’s as if the past few months had never existed.
We hope that one day we can return to that normalcy, the type that we want to see not one that is dictated by others. Let’s learn from this to make festival experiences even better. Hopefully live music will be valued more after the pandemic because really its what kept many people sane.
Dr. Shenka: To be part of a festival that has the courage to put on an event after the times we’ve lived in with this pandemic, it was really important. I think we will be criticized by some people for performing live but we applaud Ruido Fest’s audacity – from the sponsors, to promoters, the bands and the fans – we were all part of this lineup and it really creates a precedent of how we can return to festivals safely in a city like Chicago.
There is some sort of responsibility because these are tough times but music really has a way to heal our souls and helps us face this pandemic. Not only should we stay strong physically but emotionally too and, in that sense, we have to also take into account that as humans we need this type of connection, we need to see our friends again. By performing we tried to give people here in Chicago some hope in these depressing times. It’s been hard for all of us so we really needed this.
We missed us together. The stage is such an important part of my life … sure they took the stage away from me but they didn’t take my desire to keep writing songs and create music because I knew that whenever we’d reunite with our fans again, we’d need to have new things to offer to them.
More than anything, I felt really excited to have an opportunity to return to Chicago. It’s a city that has always given me so much love. During and after my set, I felt calm and blessed. Any opportunity I have to sing and play live I take it as if it’s my last time so that I’m ready when everything starts getting canceled again.
If I could describe my first festival back in one word it would be: thankful.
soul, classic soul, motown,