Playa o Radio
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Playa o Radio

Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional, Dominican Republic | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional, Dominican Republic | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Rock Garage Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"“"Right from the start of Playa o Radio’s set, a local four-piece whose full sound matched the explosive crescendos of Explosions in the Sky with indie pop hooks and the ferocity of Foals, the country represented itself with flying colors.”"

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that representation matters. From the legalization of gay marriage to discussions on feminism to music addressing institutionalized racism, there is, front and center, a sleepless fight to balance rights in America. While we’re still very much at the beginning levels of real change — imagine if the US did less fighting and more solving? — with a long way to go, we’re making small changes to fix that. When there’s a lack of diversity, there’s a lack of variety, and when there’s a lack of variety, things remain flat. Why maintain the status quo if it does just that?

Hidden away in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is a festival that, intentionally or not, is helping solve that. Isle of Light, an annual one-day music festival that’s now in its third year thanks to festival promoter Mishu, brings together a variety of music, food, talks, and activities on the sandy peninsula of Lighthouse Punta Torrecilla. Just across the water from the rich history of Santo Domingo’s colonial neighborhood, the festival is an explosion of culture in a third-world country that very much doesn’t feel like a third-world country. You can sit on a speed-circling Ferris wheel with a stranger you met moments earlier. You can zip-line across the width of the festival for an aerial view of the headliner. You can pick up cassettes from a local record store with a cup of local rum in hand. It’s a peek into the Dominican Republic’s culture over the course of a day that, from start to finish, refuses to stop diversifying what it has to offer.

Of course, there’s no more obvious spread of representation than that of the lineup itself. Things kicked off with IOL PRO, a discussion-based round of panels and workshops on music, technology, and promotion. As Mauricio Alvarez, Joel Moya, Julio Brea, Janette Berrios, and more shared their knowledge on the topic, the tent began to fill up, people eager to hear from industry professionals. Suddenly, things began to slow down. Festivalgoers sprawled across beach chairs by the water’s edge. Massive banana bunches hanging from tree trunks (EDM fests, take note: this is how you keep kids from passing out) saw friends circling around them for a snack. The festival had apparently taken a universal pause — and no one seemed to care. Artists took the stage two hours later — a scheduling change-up that would see American festivals in a sweaty panic — without the faintest sign of stress on their face. That’s island time, and no one was bothered by it.

Shamir // Photo by Nina Corcoran

Dominican Republic DJ Selektor 7 kept minds entranced with his picks. Seeing a non-white male claim the house DJ role was the first of countless differences from western festivals. Isle of Light prides itself on pairing locals with international acts. Right from the start of Playa o Radio’s set, a local four-piece whose full sound matched the explosive crescendos of Explosions in the Sky with indie pop hooks and the ferocity of Foals, the country represented itself with flying colors. If anything, acts like this deserved to be higher up on the bill, their ability to entertain while imbuing charisma in every song impressing more than the acts to follow. Still, things shifted dramatically from one genre to the next. Perhaps the most effervescent set to come from a Dominican Republic band was that of El Gran Poder de Diosa. Six members, all dressed in white from head to toe, kept things traditional — and the crowd’s dance moves changed to match. While the audience broke into salsa-like twists, the songs led with Spanish guitar and bass. The band’s real flair came from the percussion end. The eldest of the bunch sat on a chair in the back, rotating between a series of skin-covered drums, while the drummer, an enormous shaker glued to one hand and a cowbell square in the other, never once letting up his toothy smile.

Isle of Light kept the bill balanced to represent gender diversity as well. When self-proclaimed feminist electronica trio Mula took over, the whole vibe changed. The three placed tropical-tinted riffs over heavy bass, delivering lines with the hypnosis of The Knife had Karin Dreijer Andersson been a snake charmer. Arguably the most fascinating set of the night came from Francesca Lombardo, an Italian-born UK DJ who has carved her path by playing sets across the world. Instead of the usual bass-heavy club hits, Lombardo puts dreamy melodies at the center, creating a hypnotic rhythm that keeps crowd energy high, all held together by visceral vocals. After winning the DJ Award for Best Newcomer in 2013, she’s gone on to master the art of stacking orchestral compositions with subtle samples — a feat present at her 3 AM set.

Alvaro Diaz // Photo by Nina Corcoran

Then, of course, there are those who have no gender at all, like Shamir. The Las Vegas native took the stage with a modest giggle and a note to the crowd that he was here to have fun. Naturally, everyone screamed in agreement. As he plowed through a set of hits like “On the Regular” and “Call It Off”, the crowd went crazy, spreading themselves thin just so there was enough room to dance wildly, though cutting themselves off when he went into a heartfelt ballad. Even on a tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean, post-gender deserves — and owns — a place on the stage.

As part of their goal, the festival ropes in talent from neighboring countries like Puerto Rico to diversify the curation. Dance duo Los Walters went heavy on synth and static dance moves. While flooded by lights, the two brought the energy of a Brooklyn club with the backing samples of the tropics. Compared to rapper Álvaro Díaz, a fellow Puerto Rican bursting with energy, their set felt stagnant. Díaz burst off the side stage with undeniable force, trotting its edge like he was too crazed to sit still. The budding rapper sings in his native language, a wise choice given his rap pulses with a heat representative of the country on cuts like “Manana” and “Groupie Love”, which sets him apart from other rap newcomers, especially by singing his own choruses to contrast the speed of each verse. Expect to see him rise in the next year, his talent and presence too bold to not earn a spot on western festivals after he performs at SXSW this year.

Isle of Light Festival // Photo by Nina Corcoran

Out of the four American bands on the bill, Unknown Mortal Orchestra was the only one that dominated from beginning to end. Miami act Krisp took a dad rock approach to Vampire Weekend-like indie rock that lost its appeal three songs in. Neon Indian, despite being the festival’s headliners, got lost in their synth sound, clouding up the stage with songs that turned stale after several minutes. Apart from inciting collective moments of dance with “Slumlord Rising”, the most impressive part of the set was frontman Alan Palomo’s commitment to engaging with the crowd in Spanish, an easy language switch for him given he was born in Mexico.

There’s no denying Unknown Mortal Orchestra was the band audience members were most excited to see. Each song was bookmarked with shrieks — an unsurprising level of excitement given fans were screaming even as the band set up their gear moments earlier — right from opener “Like Acid Rain” on through to older cuts like “How Can You Luv Me”. The four members took turns soloing, including a massive drum solo that left the crowd in awe, bringing slower cuts like “The World Is Crowded” to new levels. After closing with a back-to-back pairing of “Multi-Love” and “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone”, two songs that got the biggest feedback from the audience, they left to the steadfast pleas for an encore, a request that didn’t let up until the crowd realized Neon Indian had to follow suit.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra // Photo by Nina Corcoran

Isle of Light makes it seem like brewing up an amalgamation like this is easy. Speaking to those involved, I found out it may actually be that simple. Scoring a beautiful festival grounds comes down to asking for it. Getting a food spread that boasts local sandwiches, handmade brownies, vegan Asian food, snow cones, and chocolate-filled churros comes from asking a local blogger — in this case, Stephanie Gerardino of Avocado — to curate the options. “I like bringing smaller stands from our city out so people get to know them,” Gerardino tells me over a cup of lime avocado dip she made that afternoon. “Festival food can be more exciting than burgers and pizza.” It’s obvious, sure, yet it still feels uncommon at nearly every festival in the western world.

On the flight down, I found myself sitting next to a father and his mother, both of whom were originally born in the Dominican Republic. The two asked if I was visiting and if it was my first time. Upset to hear I was only there for 36 hours, they rattled off a list of things to do. “You’re welcome to come with our family to the beach tomorrow morning before the festival,” he told me, his seventysomething mother nodding along. After I politely declined, he shook his head. “Your country has always been so kind to me whenever I visit over the last 20 years,” he said. “We want to show our thanks.”

To most, Isle of Light is a festival too small to be buzzed about and too far away to be a reasonable flight. After exploring the city and meeting a handful of its people, it’s hard to imagine what good reason there is to not trek out here again. How does the US, overcome with wealth and opportunity, fail to offer its time, food, talent, and conversation as freely as they do? It’s characteristically selfish. Then again, that’s a cultural difference. The Dominican Republic wastes no time embracing its differences and celebrating them with true pride, complete with a genuine invitation to join in. In just over 15 hours, Isle of Light capitalizes that. Hopefully one day some of our American festivals will do the same. - Consequence of Sound

"”Playa o Radio Kicked things off. playing sunshiny indie pop that fit the mid-afternoon heat perfectly”"

I was 17 years young when I went to Lollapalooza 2009, my first-ever music festival. I was too concerned with fulfilling my pop punk fantasy of seeing Arctic Monkeys to be bothered with drunken EDM bros or read into the never-ending flow of glow-in-the-dark cups and neon Ray Ban knockoffs. For me, going to a festival was a world apart from the music industry machine – it was about finding a space of affirmation, where my teenage love for Animal Collective and shitty blog house could coexist.

That was a world away from my experience with music culture in the Dominican Republic, something that was limited to my dad’s friends performing impromptu jam sessions on the beach. In the Dominican Republic, large scale festivals are few and far between – one reason why last weekend’s Isle of Light Festival was so momentous. For many years, a lack of infrastructure limited massive music festivals to one-off visits from major label stalwarts like Enrique Iglesias or Ricky Martin.

In the 1970s, the Cuban nueva trova movement trickled across the Caribbean waters and created the space for the first major festivals the island had ever seen, like Siete Días con el Pueblo. They were gathering spaces for a generation ravaged by political instability and the fledgling promise of democracy, a place where many politically minded fans and aspiring musicians discovered new homegrown sounds for the first time.

Today, Dominican festivals are backed by the brawn of huge liquor companies like Presidente, and are far more likely to feature the talents of dembow and urbano’s biggest artists. While those events have a well-deserved place in the island’s music culture, most indie music fans are forced to file into cramped venues or bars in the city’s historic colonial district to get their fix for new music, and even those all-night affairs can’t compare to the allure of something like Isle of Light, which is now in its third year. Located on the grounds of Punta Torrecilla, a public park and lighthouse near the Zona Colonial, Isle of Light has pinpointed the DR’s indie music problem, acting as a salve for a longstanding wound.

Isle of Light has pinpointed the DR’s indie music problem, acting as a salve for a longstanding wound.

In addition to booking local acts, the festival organized a series of industry workshops known as IOL Pro. For veterans, the topics might seem to scratch the surface: Mauricio Alvarez of Cero 39 spoke about Latin America’s electronic music revolution, the team at Symphonic Distribution discussed how emerging artists could monetize their music through licensing and distribution deals, and our own Joel Moya explained how to make the perfect pitch.

But as I watched a room full of aspiring artists furiously write notes and shoot their hands up for the Q&As that followed each panel, I realized that these kids were hungry for support, for a way to get their music out there and capitalize on their far-off dreams. As Luis Tomás Oviedo Ducoudray, a longtime friend and singer-songwriter native to Santo Domingo told me, “IOL Pro was awesome. It’s great to know that there are companies and media outlets ready and willing to work with independent artists, something that is almost a myth in the Dominican Republic.” The majority of the island’s universities don’t offer degrees in music marketing, and Spanish-language online resources are slim. It’s all the more important that these kids have a space to learn and grow, one where they can tap into their artistic potential.

That being said, the festival is still a work in progress. Isle of Light’s strengths were not in the details so much as the mood: with dembow remixes of Bomba Estéreo, a zip line, free beer, and a dangerously fast ferris wheel, it almost doesn’t matter that the festival ran on Dominican time, that the lights went out, or that construction workers were still building the railing for the VIP stage hours after the fest had started.

The artists didn’t seem to mind either, and were happy to make sure the vibes were continually chill. Playa o Radio kicked things off, playing sunshiny indie pop that fit the mid-afternoon heat perfectly. Mula, a local electronic trio, were up next, serving warped dembow with a side of dubsteppy wub-wubs. One of the night’s standout performances was that of Los Wálters, whose prismatic pop evokes Chile’s Astro. Roots revivalists Gran Poder de Diosa held down the fort even as a tropical shower bathed the audience in rain.

Puerto Rican rap rookie Álvaro Díaz offered a welcome repose from the synthpop of the festival’s earlier acts. Díaz’s set was all high energy; he leapt across the stage in overalls and rapped about girls and the come up, like an island Chavo del Ocho. While some of the previous acts’ visuals were a little too iTunes Equalizer, Díaz’s visuals (which were crafted by Venezuelan producer VFRO) blended stock images of U.S. forefathers, Puerto Rican flags, and $100 bills. The set was unapologetically Álvaro: nightmarish retrofuturist aethetics, auto-tune yelps, and plenty of Boricua tumbao.
Shamir at Isle Of Light Festival

Without a doubt, the night’s crowd-pleaser was electrofunk master Shamir, whose heroic disco grooves won over the entire audience. I’ll admit it – I was unsure the crowd would be down for Shamir’s countertenor vocal style, but Dominicans proved me wrong yet again, something I owe to the Romeo Santos Effect.

Isle of Light seems poised to build Caribbean festival culture from the ground up.

After an explosive set from Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Neon Indian finally took the stage at 2 a.m. It felt like the most special performance of the night, even when Neon Indian bassist Jorge Palomo had to cross the stage and slap Alan Palomo’s lurching 7-year-old synth on its side to get it to work. The band ran through classics like “Polish Girl” and “Deadbeat Summer,” and Alan brought out his face-melting dance moves. Perhaps the most endearing part of the set was the fact that he spoke in Spanish in between every song – a move that made the performance feel all the more intimate. After a stellar performance of “61 Cygni Ave,” Palomo chuckled, “Esa es una de las pocas cumbias que tenemos,” and the crowd roared.

At a time when multinational corporations seem to dominate music festivals, Isle of Light seems poised to lead the pack in building Caribbean festival culture from the ground up. They were able to bring together the best of both worlds: music discovery and memorable performances, with a little bit of financial support to make it all happen. For local acts who want to share their music with the world, it’s a chance to be received in equal measure with their American counterparts, and one that’s long overdue. - Remezcla

""Luego pasó una de las revelaciones del momento, Playa O Radio, para demostrarle a los que creen que todo tiene que ser punchi punchi con altos decibeles que bandas de alma rockeras como esta son necesarias en estos conciertos.""

Hace unos cuantos días se celebró otra edición de Isle Of Light, uno de los festivales más exitosos en la ciudad de Santo Domingo. Poco a poco ha ido alcanzando el nivel de grandes festivales y podemos decir que es algo nuestro: en cada versión sorprende tanto a nivel de montaje como de iniciativas. La música, las atracciones, los guineos maduros y el zipline ya son parte de Isle Of Light, pero en esta ocasión hay varias cosas que resaltar.

Bonche Bus: Desde un parqueo con seguridad en la Marina de Guerra, una guagua te traslada hasta Punta Torrecilla de la forma más animada posible.

Ubicación: A veces es difícil ir a tomar una cerveza y no perderte de lo que pasa en el escenario, en esta ocasión el food court y los bares quedaban en puntos estratégico para evitar que pasara eso.

IOL Pro: Aparte de la buena música, el festival incluyó una serie de charlas dirigidas a un público compuesto por artistas y personas involucradas con la música. Destacamos la excelente participación del equipo de Remezcla, Symphonic Distribution y Mauricio Álvarez (Cero 39), y esperamos que esta iniciativa no quede confinada a los días de festival, sino que los organizadores puedan expandir y realizar estos paneles durante el resto del año.

Line-up local: Si hay algo que necesita la escena musical alternativa es apoyo de grandes eventos. Aunque no es la primera vez que se incluye bandas locales en la alineación (Auro Sónico, MAPO y Tangowhiskyman estuvieron el año pasado), no podemos negar la alegría que nos aporta; este año la selección estuvo de lujo. IOL abrió con los beats de Selektor 7, quien incluyó muchas fusiones y canciones de talentos dominicanos. Luego pasó una de las revelaciones del momento, Playa O Radio, para demostrarle a los que creen que todo tiene que ser punchi punchi con altos decibeles que bandas de alma rockeras como esta son necesarias en estos conciertos. MULA fue una gran sorpresa para muchos que no habían sido testigos de esta mutación de música urbana con tintes oscuros y tres mujeres que no necesitan vestirse de colores estrafalarios ni mover hasta el último de los músculos del trasero para interpretarla. Y qué decir del Gran Poder de Diosa y su increíble puesta en escena, bendecida por una leve lluvia que dijo “presente” en el momento perfecto en que su música raíz llevaba a la tarde a transformarse en noche.

Cerveza gratis: No es un secreto que los isleños no estamos acostumbrados a aparecer a las 2:00pm en un concierto y que por lo general creemos que no vale la pena el “sacrificio” de ver a los locales. Por lo tanto, regalar cervezas de 5:00pm a 6:30pm fue una muy buena estrategia para empezar a acostumbrar al público a llegar más temprano.

Line-up extranjero: Sacando a Twin Shadow de la ecuación, es la primera vez que Isle Of Light tiene invitados latinos. Los Wálters son uno de los mejores ejemplos de que no hay que ser popular en la isla para poner a gozar al público local. Krisp es también otra muestra de la amalgama de sonidos que representa el festival. El hip-hop es uno de los puntos que no puede faltar en futuras ediciones de IOL y esto quedó demostrado con Álvaro Díaz, ya que el rapero boricua supo cómo mantener al público dominicano disfrutando de su presentación y sus visuales de principio a fin.

Parque de diversiones para niños grandes: No podemos negar que nos encanta montarnos en el zipline y la estrellita, sin importar a la velocidad vertiginosa que vaya, con tal de tener vistas privilegiadas de los artistas en turno. Definitivamente estas atracciones son uno de los puntos más divertidos de Isle Of Light.

Los protagonistas: Una velada de lujo no termina sin un buen plato fuerte, y en este caso hubo más de uno. Las marcadas diferencias entre cada headliner fue lo que hace más interesante cada puesta del festival. Shamir fue la elección más destacada y a la vez llena de locura, mientras que la distorsión y la psicodelia estuvieron a cargo de Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Con una selección de los mejores títulos de su discografía, Neon Indian demostró su grandeza en cada canción y salieron adelante sin importar algunos pequeños inconvenientes con el sonido, y para cerrar la noche (o abrir la mañana), Francesca Lombardo acabó con un DJ set con todas las de la ley.

Esperamos seguir siendo testigos de lo que ha creado Isle Of Light en la isla, y le deseamos a sus organizadores muchos éxitos en el futuro. - La Casetera

""Playa o Radio’s Dance Rock Debut Sparkles Like the Fireworks of a Teen Summer Romance.""

Dominican indie band Playa o Radio‘s bright, sunny tunes first caught Remezcla’s attention a few months ago at Isle of Light Festival in Santo Domingo. An outdoor festival would be the ideal venue to enjoy these representatives of DR’s young indie scene: The mood of their music is expansive and the songs baroque, begging for a big stage. Plus, you’ll want room to move your hips. But their six-song EP The Upa Father of the Little Tree sounds just fine in your headphones – terrific, in fact.

The rambunctious energy of the EP, with its rubbery bass lines and disco beats, hearkens to indie bands from the early 2000s, like Bloc Party or Interpol, bands whose sound described as a post-punk revival at the time. If this is a revisitation as well, it might be an even better idea this time around. Some ideas age really well as subsequent generations adopt and investigate them, discovering and fully exploiting previously overlooked possibilities. And it’s fair game; all that stuff is over 10 years old now.

Playa o Radio’s version is slick, stylish indie pop that manages to be cool and wildly romantic at the same time. The quintet’s release plays like a sonic kaleidoscope of emotions and packs all the fireworks of a teenage summer romance. Jangly, euphoric guitar leads set the powerful rhythm section on an upward emotional trajectory. Even the darker, more driving tracks like “Graby’s Moon” have a sparkle to them. It’s the trebley guitars and the madly lush production that do it, but also the breathless, quavering vocals of guitarist and frontman Ronel de Los Santos.

The EP opens with the effervescent “Tropical Party,” which has its roots in the old school indie pop tradition. The track features sweet boy-girl vocals and a lot of egg shaker, but feels as modern and fresh as it does nostalgic, with a dance beat that’s hard to resist. “Rediseño” is a disco by way of post-punk workout, exquisitely produced, with layers of backing vocals that lighten the mood. “Tigre Suave,” the most earwormy song of the bunch, boasts vocals with Robert Smith-levels of drama and the melodic punch of your favorite Cure song, minus the characteristic soppiness.

Don’t let the lack of brooding lull you into a false sense of security. Songs can start off deceptively twee, with De Los Santos crooning reedily, but can escalate quickly – as if achieving flight – and end abruptly. Playa o Radio is not selling bubblegum indie. Their sugar rush is more like a wild infatuation, the first one you go through where you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. Most of us are smart enough to know, even as we let it take us up, that there’s a crash coming. At least in the case of The Upa Father of the Little Tree, when it lets you down, you can just press play and go right up again.

Playa o Radio’s The Upa Father of the Little Tree is out now. POR plays Santo Domingo’s Cinema Café on July 23. - Remezcla


The Upa Father of the Little Tree - EP - 2016


Feeling a bit camera shy