The second annual Neon Desert Music Festival took place in downtown El Paso on May 26, 2012. I still remember attending last year's first ever NDMF and instantly feeling like something special had made it's way to the Sun City as I walked through the San Jacinto Plaza. This wasn't just a roundup of random bands with a couple of food vendors on the side. This was the beginning of something that the city had been yearning for- an indie music scene that celebrated local, national, and international musical talent. Closeted music fest junkies could now come out and play!
I wasn't anticipating anything too different from the previous year except for the line up, of course. They mixed it up a bit and brought in some bigger names to headline the event such as El Paso's beloved Sparta, Ghostland Observatory, Moby, and the Spanish pop sensation, Belanova. But this year was a little different. I was a regular Joe Shmoe the year before. This time, I was handed a press pass and would be writing about the event for Latinitas.
Interviews had crossed my mind but I figured those were only for the well known journalists that knew what they were doing. I'm not sure I'd even consider myself a rookie. I'm whatever comes before that. Anyway, imagine my surprise (and skepticism) the morning of NDMF when I received an email from someone claiming to represent Belanova and taking interview requests. Just like that. I thought writers usually have to beg, steal, lie, and cheat to score interviews- especially when it's famous, Grammy-nominated, international superstars like Belanova! I immediately responded to the email and before I knew it, I was scheduled to meet and interview the band that night backstage at 9:05pm sharp! I was sure I was being punked so I didn't want to announce it on Facebook or Twitter so that I wouldn't jinx myself.
After the initial shock of what was happening, I grew nervous. El Paso may be a border city with Mexico but when it comes to our Spanish, we get away with murder. I consider myself fluent in Spanglish and it ain't pretty. What if the band couldn't understand me? Or worse, what if I couldn't understand them?! Maybe they spoke English and I wouldn't have to worry about it. Probably not. I prepared my questions in both English and Spanish just in case. By the time 8:30pm rolled around, my heart was beginning to beat faster than the loud beats echoing throughout the festival. Although there was a little mass confusion at first as to where I was supposed to meet Belanova's manager to get backstage, I finally made my way to the other side of the fence! Be sure to check out the actual interview on laslatinitas.com!
Once the interview was over, I sat backstage, enjoying the music and the crowd. El Paso is full of Belanova die hards! I watched as they got ready to take the stage and something about the excitement of the crowd once they were on gave me goosebumps. The crowd sang their hearts out to every single song. My favorite was "Hasta el Final". I couldn't get that one out of my head for days!
It's was only the second NDMF, but already, it has ushered in enourmous crowds. Some are predicting that it may be the next Coachella. That is a bold statement but the promoters that put this event together know exactly what they're doing and I have faith in El Paso and in NDMF. Only time will tell but for now, it's a fun event that caters to all ages regardless of taste in music. For me, it's simple. I love live music. It doesn't matter what genre it is. If it's live, it'll move you. And if you're really lucky, an interview may land on your lap, just like that.