San Diego might need to step up its game, because Tijuana has been blowing up lately with tons of great food, art and music. On Saturday, Nov. 17, more than 40 bands, beatmakers and DJs will convene at Tijuana's Casa de la Cultura for All My Friends Music Festival, a daylong party that's set to last late into the night. See amfmf.com to get tickets and see a full schedule. Here's a look at some of the highlights:
Chelsea Wolfe: If post-punk existed in the age of Shakespeare, it could've taken the form of Chelsea Wolfe's pained, ultra-bleak songwriting. Her enthralling new CD, Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs, sounds like something a doomed young traveler would listen to while traipsing into the maw of a haunted forest. (Read my interview with her on CityBeat's music blog, Check 1, Check 2.)
Mock the Zuma: Hailing from the violence-marred city of Juárez, Mexico, Mock the Zuma producer Kevin Santana conjures a strangely alluring sound-world of spastic beats, heaving bass, iridescent synths and chopped, glistening samples. Fresh and futuristic, it works just as well on headphones as on the dance floor.
Los Macuanos: Pioneers of the ruidosón genre, Tijuana electronic mavens Los Macuanos take as much inspiration from danceable folk rhythms as from the theories of French philosopher Jacques Derrida. Even at their darkest, these guys deliver deep, irresistible grooves. (Also, make sure to check out fellow ruidosón artists María y José and Santos.)
Maniquí Lazer: Holding the torch for the noise-dance-punk explosion of the early '00s, this celebrated Mexicali outfit crosses meaty riffs and bloodcurdling screams with squiggling synths, goofy lyrics and disco beats. It's pretty weird, but only if you've never listened to bands like Arab on Radar and XBXRX.
Tron: Squeamish concertgoers might want to steer clear of this Mexicali noise-grind project: The main guy in Tron likes to wear a pig mask and douse himself with fake blood (at least I hope it's fake) as a visceral critique of government corruption in Mexico.
Helado Negro: With the tropical textures of El Guincho and the delicate approach of Ricardo Villalobos, this Brooklyn beatmaker strikes a balance between studious craftsmanship and beach-ready, piña colada-sipping fun.
Pangea: Like Nobunny and Hunx & His Punx, this ragtag L.A. band's infectious brand of bubblegum-punk sounds noisy, sloppy and delightful.