Reggaeton hit the American mainstream in 2004, with massive hits from Daddy Yankee and Ivy Queen. A mixture of Latin, hip-hop and reggae music, the new sound was a natural fit within San Jose’s downtown scene, where all three of reggaeton’s parent genres have connected well with audiences.
As a genre, reggaeton has mostly been delivered to crowds via a DJ—or a DJ and emcee; it is less frequently performed with traditional rock instrumentation. La Inedita (roughly, “The Unprecedented”), a Peruvian five-piece band play “chicha” music—a Peruvian version of cumbia that is deeply indebted to reggae, and thus, a cousin to reggaeton. If it sounds like a confusing mix on paper (Peruvian-cumbia-reggae), it’s just the opposite coming from your speakers. The music is rhythmic and infectiously danceable.
“Dancehall and reggaeton are more produced in a studio,” says Ramon Zepeda of Sonido Clash, the San Jose-based collective promoting La Inedita’s upcoming show at the Back Bar SoFa. “It’s sample-based—everybody sampling the same beat over and over again. Chicha is the Peruvian version of Cumbia music. When Cumbia got to Peru, they fused it with psych rock from the ’60s, and they started using electric instruments, guitars and drums.”
All of these elements—electric guitars and bass, live keys, drums and congas, as well as an emcee channeling the Jamaican dancehall sound—can clearly be heard in La Inedita’s music.
“It’s a diverse sound,” Ramon says. “La Inedita reflects San Jose in its diversity.”
Now on their second U.S. tour (a feat rarely accomplished by Peruvian bands) La Inedita has already made waves in America. South By Southwest organizers labelled them a must-see act at the 2015 festival in Austin, Texas. For their part, Sonido Clash jumped at the opportunity to bring the group to San Jose, where there is a growing demand for music that melds Latin American sounds with alternative, indie and electronic music.
“There’s always been Latin alternative shows in San Jose—more rock-based, more like ’80s and ’90s, that defined a generation of Latinos,” says Fernando Perez Fiesco, also of Sonido Clash. “But what we’re doing is really showcasing the contemporary music and musicians. We all grew up listening to cumbia at home. But these contemporary musicians are making a new contribution, and adding another layer on top of that.”
Both Zepeda and Fiesco hope fans will come early and ready to dance. San Jose’s own contribution to alternative Afro-cumbia music, the up-and-coming Corazon Salvaje will open the show.
Jul 2, 9pm, $15
BackBar SoFa, San Jose