The popular outdoor music fair known as Ruido Fest returned to Chicago for the fifth time on Aug. 19-21 at Chicago's Union Park.
Inspired by Spanish words describing noise and sound, this outdoor gathering highlights Latin American alternative music acts. This philosophy expands well beyond music, with vendors and experiences around the three fenced-in stages titled "Ruido", "Noise" and "Fiesta."
This year, the organizers landed some massive corporate sponsorships with the restaurant chain McDonald's, Xfinity by Comcast and the Chicago White Sox, among others.
Community partners included a Toyota Music Den used to promote new talent and "Our Music, My Body," which reinforced the zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment already set in place by Ruido Fest.
Several vendor booths displayed services and information especially for the LGBTQ+ community over the weekend such as Impulse Chicago, part of Impulse United, a group focusing on health for queer men. In a neighboring booth, the prevention organization CALOR offered free HIV rapid testing and frozen paletas as treats to engage possible clients.
Trans Chicago Empowerment Center handed out information about several programs and Ballet Folklorico de Chicago wore traditional costumes to bring attention to upcoming performances. The municipal park was filled with fun outside of the music scene such as Mexican wrestling with Luchadores in a Lucha Libre ring.
Local food and beverage vendors had a big presence for revelers to recharge throughout the three days. Add-ons to the general admission ticket were offered as upgrades with either a VIP Viewing Zone or Ultra VIP Zone. Air-conditioned bathrooms, intimate seating and exclusive food/beverages experiences were located in the VIP section.
The overall artist lineup not only matters as far as representation but will always be important to stimulate ticket sales to make this outdoor extravaganza a success. The headliners who performed at the Ruido Stage for 2022 were California singer Cuco on Friday, Argentinean ska band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs on Saturday and Grammy-nominated rappers Cypress Hill closed the weekend on Sunday evening before disappearing a cloud of cannabis smoke.
While many LGBTQ+ attendees and vendors were present over the three days at Ruido Fest, the lineup ran short on out musicians scheduled to play in concert.
Mila La Morena (she/her/they/them), who performed Aug. 21, was a rarity: a Chicago-based artist who identifies as non-binary. Jade, a member of La Morena's band, is also non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. Their single "Sagitario" explores being queer and Jade mentioned feeling pressure to represent the community while performing onstage in terms of clothing and style. La Morena stated, "I wish there could be more visibility at Ruido Fest for LGBTQ+ performers in the future. It is important to feel supported and loved because the Latin community is very influenced by the Catholic religion." Sexually fluid Mexican-American singer Omar Apollo (in the news for reportedly dating Frank Ocean); regional Mexican band Grupo Firme, with gay member Johnny Caz; and Brazilian drag singer Pabllo Vitarr were discussed as options for the future with some of the attending artists.
Mexican-born singer Ely Guerra talked with Windy City Times just before her Aug. 21 set about her loyal gay following who were camped out to see her: "I think they identify with me because I have been battling to have a career just as they have been fighting a war to be accepted. We all have to keep fighting!" She described her past appearance at a tribute for lesbian singer Chavela Vargas as "a special and unique experience."
Other highlights from the weekend were the unique sounds of Mexican singer Ed Maverick, Colombian hip-hop artist Goyo and electronic pioneer Silverio's raunchy two-day stint as a surprise replacement for Malta Vecindad, who canceled before Cypress Hill's epic Aug. 21 performance.
Stay tuned to ruidofest.com for further updates and announcements.