San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

SW!CH Festival unites Costa Rica’s enthusiasm for music and the environment

By Stacey Auch | Tico Times Staff

Last week’s SW!CH Festival brought to close a year of big name concerts in Costa Rica, which saw visits from greats such as Elton John and Lady Gaga. The event also supported the country’s carbon neutral goal, leaving us eager to see what acts and festivals 2013 will bring.

Hosted by the NGO, Fundación Pro Energias Renovables, the SW!CH Festival was a celebration and commitment by attendees to help make Costa Rica carbon neutral by its bicentennial in 2021. Using music as the combining force, the festival opened the stage to more than 15 Costa Rican bands over four days and finished strong with headliners Molotov, a Mexican rap/rock group, and the Argentinean duo IIlya Kuryaki and the Valderramas. 

Costa Rica’s most celebrated band of 2012, the psycotropical Sonámbulo opened the headlining concert after having played Austin City Limits two months earlier. Fans adjusted well to the big, endless stadium environment after years of following Sonámbulo in city venues with capacity for only a few hundred people, and crowded the stage to hear up close their favorites such as El Baile del Zopilote and Jabali Montuno.

As attendees continued to trickle into the stadium, the lyrically blunt band Molotov took the stage and filled the stadium with full rock energy for 1.5 hours. The plethora of Mexican slang rang out as fans sang along to favorites including Spanglish Voto Latino and Here we Kum.

Despite the slang, the band’s lyrics promote an overall vibe of brotherhood between Latinos and Gringos and people in general; this energy was felt throughout the show. While the air cooled to a perfect temperature, a small, almost snow-like rainfall began to further excite the audience as everyone danced and moved together while singing Molotov’s undoubtedly most popular song, “Frijolero,” about a battle between a Gringo and Mexican full of racial slang and good melodies.

The funk- and pop-inspired duo Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas had attendees dancing from beginning to end with groovy songs such as “Jugo” and the “Jaguar House” and also romancing with a few rock ballads in between. Fans were further bathed in positive energy and inspired to move with fun video images such as Kung Fu and lots of blue and pink lights, which turned the rain into pretty, colored drops falling all around. 

Two things are aligning in Costa Rica, quality venues such as the National Stadium and the surrounding area available in the park, and a successful run of production for many A-level artists, both Spanish- and English-speaking. The SW!CH festival was a great example of these stars align to bring the best of Costa Rica’s music and environmental love to meet with international acts and achieve big goals.

Residents and visitors should begin to follow more closely international artist performance dates, because Costa Rica will be adding to its tour schedules, creating just one more reason to visit or relocate to Costa Rica.

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