Music Festivals

Wet Mango Fest Goes IRL for Its Second Edition

Never Loved headlines the second Wet Mango Fest.
Never Loved headlines the second Wet Mango Fest. Photo by Kayla Surico
Wet Mango Fest, Miami's juiciest alternative music and arts festival, is back with its second iteration following the festival's virtual launch last year. Streamed only on Twitch, the two-day festival showcased alternative South Florida acts such as Surfer Blood, Afrobeta, Palomino Blond, Better Than This, Happy Hour, and Mold!

On Saturday, June 18, Wet Mango will finally make its IRL debut at SkateBird Miami, the skatepark in El Portal. Still focusing on a diverse roster of hyper-local alternative acts, the fest will feature sets by Never Loved, Julia Bhatt, Las Nubes, Dyne Side, Frogs Show Mercy, Bruvvy, and more— all performing on a stage built above the skate pit.

Beyond a super-stacked lineup, the fest (hosted by musician Raquel Lily) will include a skate showcase by young shredder Zion Effs and friends, plus a comedy stage featuring Brittany Brave, Evan Wimberly, and Matt Ross. If you can't make it in person, the fest will be streamed live on Twitch and includes online-only exclusives such as an interview room hosted by Backroom Sessions.

Bryan Cuan-Garcia and Lesly Montes, the creatives behind the festival, believe the $30 ticket is a small feat to support their grassroots efforts, especially for an event that prioritizes quality production.

"There's not a lack of shows, but there's a lack of production," Cuan-Garcia says.

The owner of audio-visual production company Cuantum Productions, Cuan-Garcia moved back to Miami in 2020 after living in Los Angeles for ten years. While in a slump, the business owner found inspiration in rediscovering the city's thriving local music.

Cuan-Garcia partnered with creatives at local studios Artificial Memory, Lowercase, and the Shack North to plan out a high-production, livestreamed festival for bands looking to have new video content and do something cool while deep in the pandemic.

"I love the adjectives and the fruit. I said, 'What's a very South Florida thing?'" he says. Taking inspiration from Tampa's Big Guava Music Festival, the name Wet Mango was born.

The first iteration of Wet Mango Fest in 2020 saw Cuan-Garcia and Montes collaborating for the first time. With Cuan-Garcia's technical skills, Montes' experience in artist and social-media marketing and producing large festivals such as Riptide and Ultra, and the duo's ability to round up an impressive lineup of bands and locals to collaborate with, the online festival was a success, amassing over 2,500 streams on Twitch.

"It was nice to give the local scene a little bit of love during that time," Montes says.

Now, the pair is ready to deliver its first in-person event.

Trying to avoid a DIY approach, the duo invested most of the budget toward production, including stages, lighting, an LED wall, fun activations, and high-quality cameras.
click to enlarge
Las Nubes is also on this year's bill.
Photo by Mariana Mendoza
"If you're an alternative band and you're out here trying, you get to hit a stage that has good light production done by people who work bigger festivals," Montes says. "When you find people that are willing to invest their time on energy on something that is just a bit more expertly put together you want to be part of it and help make it grow."

Although Wet Mango Fest will be providing the production level of a large-scale festival, the real mission is to put a spotlight on local acts. Headline this year's event is South Florida alt-rockers Never Loved, who is signed to New York City indie label Equal Vision. Other performers include Las Nubes, indie-outfit Cannibal Kids, rock 'n' rollers Bruvvy, and lo-fi artist FirstWorld.

"I hope people are able to look at the lineup and see how friendly it is for people of color, for women for queer folk," Montes adds. "Our lineup is probably the most diverse since Black Market, who's doing the lord's work for putting up the LGBTQ+ community. We want to help amplify the people who really deserve to have the mike."

Festival attendees will be able to take home a coloring book made in collaboration with Art Club, featuring drawings by artists such as Baghead.

Running from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Wet Mango Fest allows re-entry and even encourages guests (via signs on the LED wall) to leave and check out local record stores Sweat Records and Technique Records.

Considering this will only be the duo's first in-person festival, Cuan-Garcia and Montes aren't sure where it will go from here, but they hope people will continue supporting their mission.

"I want to keep doing cool shit and see where it goes," Cuan-Garcia says. "As long as I have the right partner working with me and it continues to be fun, I'm going to continue to do it."

Wet Mango Festival.
11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at SkateBird Miami, 533 NE 83rd St., El Portal, 305-603-8015; cost $30.
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Catherine Toruño is a music and arts writer from West Kendall. She enjoys sustainable fashion, attending local music shows, and exploring Miami on her bike.

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