MTYMX: A REFLECTION

by kevin diamond

Much has been written about this past week’s Todd P Currated MTYMX Festival in Monterrey, Mexico. Some things fair, some unfair. I thought I’d take a moment, as someone who was personally involved in the festival, to express a few of my thoughts about the matter.

Artist: Dan Deacon
Song: Of The Mountains

Let me start of by saying something every politician has had to say at some point in their lives: mistakes were made. The transportation situation was completely F’d up, and it was the fault of those of us planning the festival. Many bands never made it to Monterrey through no fault of their own. Their desire to play music for the people of Mexico never wavered, but, because of our mistakes, they were unable to complete their trip.

That being said, there were some bands who flaked out not because of our transportation issues, but because of fear. It’s hard to blame them, when looking at the American news media’s coverage of Mexico in our lifetimes. Images of fighting between armed men and the Mexican army are an all to familiar sight, and I’m not denying that these images represent a part of the reality of living in Mexico. But it was the purpose of the MTYMX fest, and of those of us donating our time to putting it on, to help correct the preconcived, and incorrect, notion that these images represented the entirety of Mexican life.

In Monterrey, Mexico, I experienced many things. I made it a point to walk around the rich, beautifully built, vibrant city and take it in. The city is gorgeous, surrounded by Mountains that tower over the sky scrapers like steal leviathans. The people walking into banks and restaurants that line the streets are dressed in suits, on break from work; or perhaps they are dressed more casually, in kahkis and a button up shirt. I had the sensation that I could have been walking down any street in America. It was warm, sunny, bright, and the people walking through the park had smiles on their faces.

I never felt scared for my life. I never felt nervous, or in danger, or even uneasy. I felt safer walking the streets in Monterrey than I have walking certain streets in America: in the rough parts of Syracuse, where I went to school, or even certain areas of Brooklyn.

Is there violence in Mexico? Certaintly. Is there violence in America? Of Course. Monterrey’s crime rate is equal to that of NYC. I live by the notion that we should not live guided by fear. It’s a mistake that America made in the aftermath of 9/11, and i think it’s a mistake that some nervouse attendees and bands made here. It’s an understandable human reaction, but an unfortunate one.

As for the festival itself, once the music started and the energy began to build, there was nothing stopping it. The festival rode on the backs of the enthusiastic, excitable audience of kids from mexico, germany, colorado, brooklyn, and beyond. For those of us who live in a major American city, it’s easy to think of passing up on an offer to see Dan Deacon or HEALTH play near us. We all know we’ll have a million chances to see these bands. These kids aren’t so lucky. The look of wonder on their faces when Andrew WK stuck his microphone down his pants, or Dan Deacon led them in a dance contest is a sight I’ll treasure for ever.

I could go through a list of the bands who played and talk about each performance, but it really wasn’t about that. There were good performances and bad, but the thing that stuck out was a sense of community. Many bands stayed around for most of the festival; Das Racist filmed a music video in a VW Bug on their second day there, Dan Deacon did stand up comedy sets on the days he wasn’t performing, and everyone hung out afterwards at the DIY venue GARAGE, where the MTYMX afterparties were held. There was no backstage, no wall between artist and audience, no pretension under those mountains and glimmering stars. And this was the essence of the festival. The gift it gave to us all. And I will always be grateful for it.

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