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Bogota Trip for Estereo Picnic Festival

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Bogota Trip for Estereo Picnic Festival

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March 25, 2024

For the first time since the Pandemic, I was able to go to Bogota to be at the Estereo Picnic festival  in Bogota, and I went with the idea of showing the headlining acts that the rock music scene in Colombia is a booming one, and to try and talk the acts as well as their management into participating in the Alttavoz festival in November here in Medellin. 

Rock Festival History in Colombia

For the 8 years I’ve lived here, 2 major rock festivals have shaped the rock/metal scene here in Colombia – Estereo Picnic in Bogota and Altavoz in Medellin. While these 2 shows have brought top tier International musical acts to Colombia, they are polar opposites in terms of theory and principle. While Estereo Picnic is a typical rock festival, which has attracted top tier talent, last year bringing in Drake and this year Limp Bizkit, The Offspring, MIA, Sam Smith and headlined by Blink-182, there is a high ticket price associated with entry and then the costs just go up from there once you enter, where Altavoz is free entry with food and drink purchase inside. The bands are paid for by the mayor’s office of Medellin. This has landed top metal acts like Papa Roach, Testament and Suicidal Tendencies in recent years. 

We can’t talk about Estereo Picnic without mentioning the tragic death of Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins in 2022 in Bogota. I only mention this because this is something looming over the whole country and the rock music scene in Colombia. 

Turning Altavoz up to 11

The other major difference between Estereo Picnic and Altavoz is that while Altavoz is focused on metal and rock music, Estereo Picnic this year hosted many top latin pop artists, most notably Feid and NikkiNicole. The festival also had many other middle of the road acts such as Kings of Leon, Sam Smith, MIA and Greta Van Fleet as well from the English music side. I asked many concert goers, who they were most looking forward to, their answers were interesting, most wanted to see Limp Bizkit, The Offspring and Blink-182. None of these bands match the ferocity of the hardcore acts that have performed at Altavoz over the past 8 years, however they bring name recognition that would definitely give Altavoz international attention and draw in tourists to Medellin, responsible tourists, the tourists that Mayor Fico Gutierrez is trying to attract to the city.

I asked everyone I talked to where they were from, there were many from Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Panama, Mexico and the United States. If the mayor is serious about rehabilitating the image of the city, and I truly believe he is, bringing in massive acts like Blink-182 will go a long way to showing off the new look tourism of Medellin. 

If you build it they will come…

I was only at Estereo Picnic on Sunday, because of personal engagements, but I was able to speak briefly with the 2 US headlining bands and their management, The Offspring and Blink-182. My question to both was, have you ever been to Medellin and would you consider having a concert or participating in a festival in Medellin?

Blink-182 lead singer Tom Delonge was adamant that he would love to perform in Medellin. The band participated in Estereo Picnic last year and Delonge said the band would be excited to see what the crowds in Medellin had to offer. Guitarist Matt Skiba added that they love the energy of all of the places they have been to in South America, and they’d love to see how Medellin has progressed past its violent past, and give the people a show they’ll never forget. 

The Offspring’s response was more certain, lead singer Dexter Holland told me that they have performed in Medellin and the crowds here are just as loud and crazy as anywhere else they have performed. Guitarist Noodles said they would love to come back to Medellin and tear the house down.

The answers given by both bands proves what the mayor’s office is doing is the right thing. Cleaning up the tourism and attracting a higher caliber of tourist will make it more likely that musical acts like Blink-182 and The Offspring perform in Medellin, giving more international recognition to the city, and giving a chance to showcase more of Medellin than Pablo Escobar, drugs, sex and crime. The short answer is that this is good for everyone, because a rising tide raises all boats – meaning we will all benefit from having major musical acts stopping in Medellin to perform. 

Taking the Good With The Bad

In speaking to the PR team for the mayor’s office of Bogota, the city anticipates that more than 70,000 people will be attending the event over the 4 days of the festival. They anticipate that 60-65% of attendees will be from out of town. This will bring the city of Bogota a huge injection of money from tourism. Hotels and AirBnBs in Bogota were difficult to find for the festival, taxis were nearly non-existent and the Transmillenia was packed at all hours like it was rush hour traffic. While all of these sound like negative things, this is viewed as a win by the mayor’s office of Bogota.

Were there pickpockets? Yes. That is unavoidable in modern society. Were food and beverages outrageously priced? Also yes, but this is to be expected. My main complaint about the latter is that the event’s promoters were gamifying the ability to purchase food and beverages with a Fyre Festival style “Cashless wristband”. They promoted this as a convenience, however what tends to happen is that when you don’t have to hand over cash or your card, to purchase something, you tend to lose track of what you’re buying and spend more money than you are thinking you are. This is similar to the way that casinos operate, you can divorce the value of what you’re spending by a swipe of your wrist, or tossing a 100,000 chip on a hand of poker at a casino. 

Let’s make the city of eternal spring an international musical destination

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, and while I appreciate doing so, I want to speak directly to the mayor here, Mayor Fico, I saw firsthand what a top level music festival can do for a city, I’ve seen it at Coachella, I’ve seen it at EDC in Las Vegas and now with Estereo Picnic here in Colombia. The amount of responsible tourists it brings into the host city is unimaginable. Granted we are not going to have a show of this size by November, but we can start with Altavoz, and bring in higher level international acts. They want to come here, the people want to see them play, let’s make everyone happy. I have an idea of how to make this a reality, but I will save this for when I have a moment to speak to the mayor. 

Cleaning up tourism will lead to better events like Estereo Picnic in Medellin. I implore the mayor to take a swing for the fences. If you are interested in knowing my plan, email me Mr. Mayor – [email protected] we want to be a part of the clean-up you’re doing in the city, and this a start of how we can help.

Steve Hamilton

Steve Hamilton has spent the last 7 years as a full time resident of Medellin. Upon arrival, dispite not speaking Spanish, and never living outside the United States, he adapted quickly to living in Colombia and embraced the culture.

He spent 15 years working in the adult webcam space, and is now a consultant for streamers of all types including YouTubers and Twitch Streamers. In addition to this, he has given back to the community by teaching at youth baseball clinics in Medellin, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga and Santa Marta, using his passion for baseball and his background in video to teach baseball players to use technology to sharpen their skills.

He’s originally from San Francisco, California and is an avid fan of the San Francisco Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Golden State Warriors and Washington Capitals. Video games, technology, reading, writing, cooking, painting and his elderly dog are his passions. If you have any questions you can reach out to him at through email.

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