Coachella hasn't had a lot of Latin music

A big change surprised everyone in Coachella this year

A big change surprised everyone in Coachella this year

Since it emerged out of the alternative rock scene in 1999, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has featured many acts spanning hip-hop, folk, EDM, pop, heavy metal and classic rock.

Yet one style of music has long been underrepresented on the grounds of the posh Empire Polo Club in Indio: Latin music. That changes this year.

Coachella’s 2017 roster includes the highest volume of Latino and Spanish-language bands in its 18-year history. Given Southern California’s demographics, some might say this is a long time in coming, especially when one takes into account that the actual city of Coachella is more than 96% Latino or Hispanic.

“I thought we existed outside of what Coachella had to offer,” said Daniel Gomez of Inland Empire band Quitapenas. “But things are changing. The gatekeepers are looking more like us.”
With President Trump pledging to build a wall along the southern border and Latino communities being shaken by an uptick in Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids, artists say that building bridges between the English-speaking Coachella crowd and Latino communities presents real-world opportunities.

Jorge Avila of the Los Angeles-based Qvole Collective, a booking and artist management company focused on what it calls “the black/brown avant garde,” describes the climate as “the perfect storm of circumstances.”

“There’s an urgency for us to come together,” he said. “Our place here is literally being threatened. People are getting deported.”

The shift in direction at Coachella caught many by surprise — even U.S. immigration agents.

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