“Kinky caps global vibe of pumping folk festival”
By Benjamin Ortiz, Special to the Chicago Tribune

Section: Tempo
Date: July 15, 2008

By the time Monterrey, Mexico’s, syntho-rock combo Kinky took the stage at Welles Park Sunday night, the crowd had turned over dramatically like night and day, from Lincoln Square families with baby strollers and bug repellent to Mexican emo-kids in mirror-plated shades and shamelessly skinny pants, from handmade tie-dye T-shirts to shiny tights and day-glo bandannas bearing indie-band logos.
Capping off two days of 15 main-stage acts and numerous side-tent dance demos, handcrafts, family activities and funnel-cake treats, the 11th annual Chicago Roots and Folk Festival, hosted by the Old Town School of Folk Music, ended with an encore-set cover of a New Wave classic: Wall of Voodoo’s “Mexican Radio,” quoted with full-on immigrant irony, as Kinky boomed clubby beats to drown out rockeros catcalling in Spanish for another blow-out hit.
The only thread linking the poppy Kinky to other acts throughout the festival was the sizzling display of ethnic chops on roots instruments, like the norteño accordion and bajo sexto, as the dance-rock vaquero Mods inspired slam pits and crowd surfing in hectic counterpoint to more homespun folksy vibes over the weekend.
“Does anyone here speak Spanish?” asked lead vocalist Gilberto Cerezo. The answer set off car alarms on the park’s periphery, as if to say, “This park is now OURS!” It was a frenzied ending for the outdoor fest.
As a celebration of rustic origins, the lineup made a valiant effort to hit all corners of Chicago’s rhythmic reaches, looking toward the future of roots-fusion in the youth. Plenty of children’s activities also had youngsters try out African drumming, urban poetry, Puerto Rican bomba and of course the pure pleasure of feeling an instrument reverberate in your own hands. Karaoke led by Jon Langford likewise had very tiny would-be pop idols taking the microphone, backed by a live band, to tear up such standards as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Yellow Submarine.”
As a folk fiesta, it was a chance for Chicagoans to savor the open-air communal experience of playing and singing and dancing together, as audiences did during such performances as New Orleans’ Iguanas, West Africa’s Dobet Gnahoré, New York’s Balkan-brass Slavic Soul Party and Chicago’s own cumbia colombiana experts Grupo Miel.
For a mostly mellow weekend of multi-culti fun in the sun, it was an abrupt switch to the raucous rave-vibe of Kinky that turned Welles into a Latin discotheque, cowboy boots and all.

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