Todd P’s MtyMx Mexican Standoff

The chaotic, contentious, possibly dangerous, proudly defiant scene at the promoter's Monterrey festival

Whether that fear is what kept more than 30 foreign bands, many of whom cancelled at the last minute—including putative headliners No Age, Fucked Up, and Washed Out—from attending the fest, was a distinction that became a contentious issue between MtyMx organizers and the bands. Logistics may have been more of a problem for the festival than the violence. Acts like the Coathangers and Aa spent 14 hours on MtyMx-run shuttles coming down from Austin on a trip that was only supposed to take five or six, changing buses as many as three times en route. Some shuttles left Austin nearly 24 hours behind schedule, or not at all, in part because the drivers MtyMx had hired didn’t reliably show up. “There were no reassurances given” about transportation arrangements after the news started getting out about problems with the buses, said Carter Adams, whose Windish Agency represents Washed Out, Small Black, Tanlines, and Salem (none of whom made it to the festival), as well as Lemonade, Dan Deacon, and Male Bonding (all of whom did). “I just didn’t feel very confident about sending my bands there.”

Jesse Cohen, half of the band Tanlines, defended his band’s decision to ultimately not play the festival, noting that he admired Patrick and would’ve played the show if he’d thought that they could get there. “One hundred percent of our conversations about getting to the festival were logistical,” he wrote in an e-mail the day after his band was scheduled to play, “and zero percent were about ‘safety.’ "

For his part, Patrick chalked up the plague of band cancellations to different reasons: “It’s one thing for a fan to want to do this, because your mom doesn’t know where you are necessarily. But when you’re in a band, Mom does know—most of these cancellations have been about moms.” He conceded that attempting to arrange his own DIY international bus service had been a mistake. Patrick himself had been stranded at the border for hours on Saturday as he attempted to bring 300 secondhand, military-issue tents into a country on high alert. He arrived past midnight on the festival’s first day, and sat looking weary in the 40-degree weather as his staff assembled the promised tent city by the light of a truck’s headlamps.

Fans and band members at the MtyMx festival in Monterrey attempt to remove a shuttle bus from a ditch.
Rebecca Smeyne
Fans and band members at the MtyMx festival in Monterrey attempt to remove a shuttle bus from a ditch.

Sitting in the shade the next day behind the festival’s improvised operations center, he talked candidly about the missteps of the past 24 hours, which involved an ill-advised decision to remain at SXSW instead of coming down earlier to help with MtyMx preparations, and the festival’s underwhelming attendance, which he pegged at 1,000, down from expectations of 1,500 to 2,000. Most of the time, the crowd seemed to be about half that. But some things, he added, were entirely out of his control: “We are definitely victims of some bad timing.”

This was undoubtedly true. Anyone who made it down from Austin to the festival, or attended from as far away as Guadalajara—though the majority of the MtyMx crowd, which was mostly Mexican, hailed from the festival’s immediate surroundings in Monterrey—would have been greeted with a nearly idyllic scene. Saturday’s early chaos faded, over the next two days, into more or less what the festival was meant to be in the first place: a cultural exchange program. Thus American acts like Coasting, Explode Into Colors, and the Coathangers got to test their various degrees of basement sound against an echoing and visually dramatic venue, and Monterrey locals got to encounter the unhinged phenomenon that is New York rap trio Das Racist, who were half-mobbed by the crowd after they finished. Meanwhile, the Mexican acts, which by and large played as scheduled, unveiled a few common threads as well: Yo! Linares, White Ninja, and Ratas del Vaticano, who played on successive days, revealed that hardcore punk is still very much alive in Mexico—a weird discovery made more thrilling by the fact that their same fans could be seen later in the evening, vibing contentedly to Neon Indian. MtyMx had a big tent, if you could find a way to get underneath it.

Dan Deacon, taking the stage (or the gravel in front of the stage, anyway) Sunday night in the aftermath of Patrick’s speech, had perhaps the best gloss on the situation. “Can we all just look around and appreciate where we are?” he asked, as the majority of the MtyMx attendees who’d made it clustered around him. “As a weird fat kid from Long Island, I never thought I’d be playing a sick show in Mexico.” Nor, probably, did many weird fat kids from Long Island ever imagine attending a DIY festival in Mexico where a guy like Dan Deacon was one of the main draws. In the end, the best argument for MtyMx was the simple, unlikely fact of its very existence. “I wish it was more crowded,” Yo Garage’s Ramirez Franco had told me earlier. “But we have been visited by the right people.”

zbaron@villagevoice.com

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