VIÑA DEL MAR – The Viña del Mar Music Festival is the biggest music festival in Latin America, held every year in the Quinta Vergara theater. Each night of this one-week festival features three different artists. This year, the festival included Ricky Martin, Mon Laferte, and Pimpinela.
The Viña del Mar Music Festival sprung to life nearly 60 years ago as a simple municipal fair with music. Over time, it blossomed into Latin America’s biggest music festival, with numerous famous Latino artists like Marc Anthony, Juan Gabriel, and Luis Miguel, as well as other international stars like Elton John, the Backstreet Boys, and David Hasselhoff.
Every year, the festival has had its fair share of criticism, like the fact that it is still partially-funded by public funds. This year the protests in response were especially violent, despite measures inside and outside the theater to avoid trouble.
The most notorious measure was the censorship experienced by the audience. In past years, they would have special microphones pointed at them in order to capture their comments, chants, and cheers. This year, the microphones were missing to make sure that no unsavory comments were transmitted and there are some accusations that they’re using previously-recorded audience cheers.
Day 1: Puerto Rican Music and Chilean Comedy
Ricky Martin opened the festival with Miami glamour. This, his sixth visit to the festival, was a dazzle of sparkles and Latino rhythms. His constantly changing wardrobe also gave his show a feeling of momentum—and this even though it was interrupted several times due to issues with the audio.
The most talked about moment of the show was when the hosts got close to him and asked him for a kiss on the cheek. Martin went ahead and quickly gave a small kiss on the lips to the male host. This was followed by Martin declaring that he supported the Chilean public and that the protesters weren’t asking for anything other than basic rights, earning him a standing ovation.
#festivalviñadelmar Chile 🇨🇱Hoy fue mi sexta vez presentándome ante el monstruo de la quinta Vergara. No deja de intimidar. Pero siempre creces como artista. Gracias gracias gracias #Chile 📸 : Agencia Uno pic.twitter.com/iv9RiWZvh6
— Ricky Martin (@ricky_martin) February 24, 2020
Another familiar face at the festival, Stefan Kramer, returned for a third time, however this time he chose to put his impressions aside to focus on a more intimate show in which he talked about his experience during the protests of Oct. 18 while criticizing actions of the government.
He also took a moment to show some signs that he had seen in the protests, in defiance to the festivals rules against signs being allowed in the theater this year. He also thanked the primera línea (“first line,” i.e., the first-line protesters) for allowing them to peacefully protest and showing his support for the “Approve” side of the Apr. 26 plebiscite. For his encore, he brought up his wife, Paloma Soto, and they finished the show together.
— Stefan Kramer (@StefanKramerS) February 24, 2020
Right-wing politicians and the many people whom he mocked during his routine criticized his performance, with some arguing that he was promoting violence by supporting the primera línea.
Although many left after Kramer’s finished, the night’s third and final performer, Pedro Capó, still had a great show.
Wow!Difícil poner en palabras lo que estoy sintiendo.Aún siento que estoy soñando.Recuerdo ver el festival de chamaquito con mami y soñar con este momento.Nada es imposible. Gracias a 🇨🇱,a @elfestival,gracias a 🇵🇷,a mami,a mi equipo de trabajo y a ustedes que son mi #buenasuerte. pic.twitter.com/on2o5d67iD
— Pedro Capó (@pedrocapo) February 24, 2020
The night ended on a bit of a low note, however: by the time the hosts came out to say goodnight, most of the audience had left, leaving them to address an empty theater.
Day 2: Feminist Music and Comedy
Singer and songwriter Mon Laferte has been a controversial figure in the past couple of months, primarily because she suggested the Carabineros (Chile’s national police force) might have been the ones who burned the metro stations during the Oct. 18 protests, and for taking the opportunity of the Latin Grammys to strip down to the waist to accuse Chile of human rights abuses. So when it was announced that she was going to perform at the festival, many people were wondering what she would do.
Gracias queridas compañeras por el histórico momento en el escenario del festival de viña, gracias por sus voces valientes, gracias por su talento y cariño. Ya no estamos solas. Gracias a cada una hermanas 💚✊🏽 pic.twitter.com/1VeGsYes2J
— MON LAFERTE (@monlaferte) February 28, 2020
She gave an emotional performance, while singing some of her best known songs. She also took time to address the fact that the Carabineros summoned her due to her comments about the metro fires. On stage, she said, “If you want to arrest me for saying what I think, arrest me!” At one point during her show, she began jumping while the crowd chanted, “Who doesn’t jump is a cop,” even urging her guitarist to join in.
During her show she brought up a group of women, among them singer Francisca Valenzuela, in order to give a powerful feminist message—even dancing the Cueca, the traditional dance of Chile, with Valenzuela while swinging a green handkerchief.
Following Laferte was comedian Javiera Contador. Although this was her first time at the festival, and she was following such a huge star, she managed to win over the crowd with her routine.
She originally gained prominence as the mom in the Chilean version of “Married… with Children.” She then transitioned to movie roles and now, most recently, to stand-up comedy. Her routine was focused on sharing her personal anecdotes, from being a mom to how it feels when people recognize her on the street.
She preferred to have a more intimate show that touched on the day-to-day lives of women, giving the audience a break from the political messages that have been present in the other acts.
Closing the show, Valenzuela returned to the stage with a black coat that had protest slogans all over it. Similarly to Laferte’s show, Valenzuela took a clear political position on the social protests that have been prominent in the country since Oct. 18.
Highlights of her act include when she covered her eye, in reference to the eye injuries that have been prominent in the past four months. Just like Laferte, she also began jumping while the crowd chanted “Who doesn’t jump is a cop.”
Her performance was highly praised, the only criticism was directed at the festival itself due to scheduling her at such a late hour. Besides the late hour, Valenzuela managed to bring a satisfying close the second day of the festival.
— Chile Today News (@ChileTodayNews) February 25, 2020
Day 3: A Night for Older Audiences
The third day was much quieter than the first two, mostly due to the fact that the performances were of an older variety. The night kicked off with Mexican singer, Ana Gabriel, who sang most of her old songs while refusing to read any protest signs since she wanted to avoid getting political.
She did take a moment to wrap a Chilean flag around her and say, “I urge you to pray that Latin America gets fixed, because the last country that I thought would fall into the hands of a [violent] few fell.”
She was followed by comedian Ernesto Belloni, who demonstrated a complete transformation of his onstage persona. This may be due to the fact that he used to be part of the old style of Chilean comedy, which consists of old jokes about mothers-in-law, nagging wives, and gay men—a style that immediately made him a target for the crowd.
Fortunately, thanks to him adapting to the times, he managed to do a fun show that appealed to the older crowd while also helping establish himself with the younger set.
One thing that did cause some friction was when Belloni thanked Daniel Zamudio for giving his life so that the law would protect the LGBT community. This engendered a backlash from LGBT groups and Zamudio’s family, because he hadn’t “given” his own life, it was taken from him: he was murdered by a group of neo-Nazis, which is what resulted in the Zamudio Law, which protects minorities from hateful acts.
The night ended with the Argentinian brother-sister duo, Pimpinela. They received much praise since this was their first show back after their mother passed away earlier this year.
— Pimpinela (@PimpinelaNet) February 26, 2020
— Chile Today News (@ChileTodayNews) February 26, 2020
Day 4: International Music and an Unfinished Comedy Show
The fourth day began with the Spanish singer, Pablo Alborán, who played his most famous songs. During the chorus of one of them he got emotional and stopped singing, letting the audience fill in that part of the song.
— Festival de Viña del Mar (@elfestival) February 27, 2020
The night’s comedy was presented by the group Fusión Humor, who easily won over the audience, so much so that when the hosts cut them off, not allowing them to finish, the audience began to boo and jeer. During the after-show press conference, Fusión Humor explained what had happened.
Apparently they got too much into improvisation on stage, resulting in their show running far too long, so the festival had to cut it short.
Argentinian singer Luciano Pereyra closed the night with a show that managed to win him both the golden and silver seagull trophy. He also became the first closing act to retain the most amount of audience throughout the night, unlike the first night where the only ones left at the end were the hosts.
— Chile Today News (@ChileTodayNews) February 27, 2020
Diego Rivera is currently a senior in University, finishing up his audiovisual degree. You can find him on Twitter as @Piover45.