The first night also provided me with the opportunity to speak to Victor Vasquez, Ashok Kondabolua, and Himanshu Suri – the complete Das Racist. I had only met Victor and Ashok the night prior because Hima had fallen asleep in his hotel room and just barely caught the bus. I exchanged just a few words with them on the ride into Mexico – everyone was beat as hell from SXSW – but once there I facilitated the most fun interview I have ever conducted in my short career as a journalist. If you have ever cared enough to wonder, Das Racist are as self-aware, culture obsessed, and “crazy” as they seem in their press materials and videos. What started as a conventional interview quickly degenerated into the three gentlemen riffing on non-sequitors, word games, and scholarly references in a display of their own quirky logic. They were having fun with it. They later went on to perform an exciting and well received set of songs from their mixtape “Shut Up, Dude.” They were the only hip hop act on the three day bill and they seemed to be all the more appreciated for it.
After a full night of listening to music and thrashing around I was completely exhausted. I was relieved to find out that a tent camp had been erected by the wonderful people working at the festival and that I would have to do little more than roll into one and fall asleep. They did not charge for use of the tents – which was inconsistent with what had been advertised on the MTYMX website – but I wasn’t going to complain. After a very embarrassing episode in which I attempted to enter a stranger’s tent thinking it belonged to my friends, I finally found a vacant one and went to sleep.
In the morning I was approached by the good-natured stranger (who recognized my voice). She told me that I had attempted to argue my way in to the tent by saying “Please let me in, I won’t be nasty.” This is by far one of the most embarrassing things that has ever happened to me. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would say that, let alone allow a stranger saying that into their sleeping quarters. I do not know why I thought that might be remotely persuasive. Of course, my friends found the whole thing very comical and made fun of me the rest of the trip.
My friends and I decided to leave the festival grounds and eat in “El Barrio Antiguo” again based on how pleasant our first experience there was. We found an incredible restaurant that had formerly been a Hacienda – essentially a large mansion with multiple courtyards and a big lot. We ate in an airy foyer with a gigantic chandelier made out of dried out corn. We drank ice cold Cokes and let the breeze roll over our sunburned skin. It was the perfect way to recharge after a late night of loud music and partying.
The second night was a big party due to sets by Andrew W.K. and Dan Deacon. Their perfect storm of energy, hyper-musicality, and palpable good-will got everyone excited and dancing. Dan Deacon in particular built a feeling of community by incorporating audience participation games into his set. It was looking like this night was going to be better than the last.
Some time after Andrew W.K.’s set, I found out that my friends got jumped and robbed. They went outside the campgrounds to take photos and were approached by a group of young men. After exchanging a few words, the young men assaulted my friends and took their cameras, passports, everything. Luckily, my friends were not seriously injured. It was incredibly shocking to me and definitely shattered my sense of safety and well-being. I realize that thefts and muggings happen everywhere, but it felt especially violating being away from home. For the rest of the trip my friends were heavy on my mind.
I spent the last day helping my friends get to the consulate and figure out how to get passports to return to the states. It was an unfortunate end to an otherwise exciting trip. What happened wasn’t anyone’s fault and I can still appreciate the good aspects of MTYMX. I can definitely see myself going to Mexico in the future to partake in some off-the-grid musical appreciation.
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– Thompson Davis