Fun Fun Fun Fest Preview: Maneja Beto

I don’t speak much Spanish. I took three semesters in college, and I live in Texas, so I know plenty of words and phrases. But when it comes to following fluent or native speakers in song, it’s really touch and go. I’ll recognize that “lagrimas” means “tears” and conclude that this must be a sad song. All of that is to say that I don’t relate to Spanish language music for the lyrics. I’m sure that Maneja Beto, for example, have great lyrics, but I’m much more drawn in by their musical aesthetic. There are certainly many influences from Latin American musical styles, but Maneja Beto are grounded heavily in more familiar sounds for someone like myself who doesn’t know the differences between cumbia, son, salsa and merengue. They aren’t at all schlocky like most “Rock en Español” groups, which is probably why they go with the “indie en español” label. They clearly have more in common with Mano Negra than Maná.

Maneja Beto – Panteon by Maneja Beto


Sadly, Maneja Beto hardly play anymore. Singer Alex Chavez got a professor position at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. That’s kind of not close to Austin, so they only play a couple of times a year. But the fact that they still play at all considering that kind of distance is pretty spectacular. They’re still supporting last year’s LP, Escante Calling, which features the above slow-burning but hypnotic “Panteón.” The songs I’ve heard from it – like “Solo Quisierea” and “Ofrendas” – have great rhythms, catchy melodies and an upbeat, accessible sound. This is definitely a band to catch at Fun Fun Fun Fest, especially since they are one of the very few Spanish-language acts there and will provide you with something a little bit different from the typical indie fare you’ll be hearing over the course of the rest of the weekend. Catch them Saturday, November 5 at 12:10 p.m. on the Orange Stage, and you can get any of their releases via the iTunes store.

– Carter