What do Los Amigos Invisibles and Aterciopelados have in common?
The former is a Venezuelan group that plays tropical pop spiked with funk, disco, and acid jazz. The latter is a Colombian rock band specializing in punk and the native folk sounds of its Andean homeland.
But though their styles differ, both rose to fame during a '90s peak of what José Rafael “Catire” Torres, bassist for Los Amigos Invisibles, calls an “MTV Latino boom.”
“That was our time,” he says. “Regardless of how different our music is, both bands represent an important moment in the history of Latin American alternative music.”
Los Amigos Invisibles’ success reached far beyond Latin America and into the ears of David Byrne, who signed them to his label, Luaka Bop, in 1997.
“I think what he saw in us was that we were exploring the idiosyncrasy of Venezuela much like he was doing with American culture,” Torres says.
Aterciopelados, too, became well known for their versatility. Their sound blossomed from Latin rock to a modern fusion of psychedelic Latin pop. Their spectrum of influences ranges from boleros and rancheras all the way to hardcore and folk.
“That’s how you get a song like 'Bolero Falaz' and what makes Latin rock so special,” lead singer Andrea Echeverri says.
“It’s a reflection of our reality. Living in Latin America, you listen to American and Argentine music you hear in stores while shopping, but you also listen to the salsa and cumbia your parents loved in their youth.”
Throughout the years, both bands have played at the same festivals and shared a fondness for each other. It wasn’t until April 2018, though, that they gave into their kinship and played a joint show at the Fillmore Miami Beach, to marvelous results.
“That experience at the Fillmore left a very good taste in our mouths,” says Torres, who adds that the bands offer contrasting moods that audiences can enjoy.
Echeverri agrees, saying their styles complement each other like night and day.
“We each bring something different to the table,” she says. “They are more masculine and more about the rumba, while we have a more feminine energy and are more melancholy.”
After that show, the bands began exploring the possibility of hitting the road together. The result is a ten-date tour stopping in some of the nation's most Latinx-heavy cities, including New York, San Diego, and Houston. On the penultimate date, the bands will return to the Fillmore Miami Beach as a nod to where it all began. Throughout the tour, the two groups will alternate opening and closing each show.
For Torres and Echeverri, the tour is a symbolic musical union between the sister nations, which have stood at political and ideological odds for decades.
“When we first began planning for the tour, I joked that we should call it the 'Yellow, Blue, and Red Tour,'” Torres says in reference to both countries’ flags.
“It’s beautiful that we can celebrate all that we have in common as neighbors,” says Echeverri, seeing it as an opportunity to celebrate their countries' similarities.
“We really are sister nations, and it isn’t until you travel a lot that you notice that sisterhood between them,” Torres adds.
Torres says Colombia’s support for Venezuelan immigrants in light of their country's humanitarian crisis has moved him and his fellow bandmates.
“With the current situation in Venezuela, we feel humbled by the response of the Colombian people to this crisis and all the aid they’ve offered to Venezuelans. Whatever tension lingered there, I feel like it has been surpassed, and even then, Colombians have stood up for us, and that has been a beautiful, brotherly response.”
Both performers are also excited for their South Florida return. Torres, in particular, says playing in Miami is the next best thing to performing back home because of the city's Venezuelan diaspora.
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“It’s somewhat bittersweet. It feels great to come to Miami and feel the love of fans, but it’s tough knowing we cannot actually play back home. Miami is definitely Venezuela’s biggest city outside of Venezuela — like a New Caracas.”
For fans curious about whether the two bands will join forces onstage for a duet at the Fillmore, Echeverri says their beloved Miami audience will just have to wait and see.
“It’s so great to go back to Miami. We hope the concert is a nourishing, harmonious experience for everyone.”