As the years have dawned on me, I’ve grown to become appreciative of my home city of El Paso. My late teenage years were clouded by hate for El Paso inspired by the people I surrounded myself with … yup, other naïve, hate-filled teenagers. The general consensus was that there was nothing to do here and it was a dead-end city; which is absolutely untrue.
Thankfully, I’ve seen the light and I’m proud to call El Paso my home. That may not mean I want to stay here forever, but it means I make the most of it while I am here. I also consider myself a big supporter of El-Paso-bred things, this year’s Neon Desert Music Festival this past Memorial Day weekend being only one example of that.
At the end of last year’s NDMF, I vowed to not return next year since I really hadn’t liked it (bad vibes in the crowd, cramped as fuck, lackluster lineup). But you know us Geminis change our minds like the spring changes to summer every year. So there I was this past weekend, equipped with my high-waisted shorts, crop top and a surprisingly open mind, ready to give it another go.
This year marked the festival’s first three-day edition, which was filled with live art, food vendors, homemade flower crowns, the now-expected photo booth with its customized NDMF-themed signs that make for fun pictures, and, of course, quite decent music.
Although I’m more of an electronic-music fan, I really enjoyed seeing music acts that were new to me. I was pleasantly surprised and empowered by rapper Mala Rodriguez’s blunt lyrics laced with female empowerment and danceable sounds. Another highlight was Compass (Mexican Institute of Sound + Toy Selectah), whom I unfortunately only saw for a mere 20 minutes. Still, it was nothing short of the desmadre my friends warned me it would be (the good kind of desmadre).
After months of being hyped up by people about The Drums, I finally saw them live and they did not disappoint. I got to see Ximena Sariñana sing one of my favorite songs (“Mediocre”), during which, I won’t lie, I did tear up a bit. Zoé’s always been one of my favorite bands, so it was a delight to see them live after four years since the last time back in 2011 at the original location of El Paso’s infamous, and now gone, Club 101. You can bet I sang my face off to the classics they graced us with towards the end of their set (quite off-beat, if I may add).
Needless to even say, Kaskade was a great dance party, as were Flume (in a slower, sexier way) and Girl Talk. I’m not exactly sure how I managed to maintain my crowd-induced anxiety and claustrophobia in control during those late-night sets with the bigger audiences, but I did. I crossed another one off my artist bucket list with Passion Pit, even if I was running purely on fumes by then.
In between the ridiculously-priced-and-watered-down drinks and music, I was able to sneak in some great moments, laughs and dancing with my closest friends, all while avoiding a hangover by Monday morning (total success, by the way). Sleep became my best friend by the end of the three days and I wondered how I survived three entire nights at EDC in Las Vegas last year … am I getting old?
Having an open mind and going with the flow really made my experience much more enjoyable, and so I can say I’ll probably be coming back next year!