Review: 2017 Neon Desert Music Festival Day 1

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Hi everyone! I hope you’re doing well! This weekend was one of my favorites out of the entire year! That’s because El Paso’s Neon Desert Music Festival took place downtown! If you’re as big of a music and art fan as myself, you’ll understand why it means so much to me and many others. A huge thank you goes out to the NDMF staff for allowing me to attend the festival both days. I had a great time! I hope we can work together for many years to come.

This year’s festival took me back to my youth for different reasons. I’ve noticed  several of the clothes I wore back then made a comeback this year. Many female concertgoers wore daisy dukes (shorts that sometimes include lace on the bottom of them) and rompers. Rompers are one-piece short sets. I remember owning some floral print rompers in the 90’s. Some females also wore bell bottoms or flare jeans and slacks. Even though they originated in the 70’s, they were a big deal for me in high school! I don’t think I’d ever wear any of this anymore but it was nice to take a walk down memory lane. Anyway, let’s get to the music…

The most exciting part about day one was getting to see hip-hop and R&B singer Nelly. Actually, I didn’t really get to see him that much because I’m only 5’2. The crowd around me was HUGE! If I had to guess, there were at least 10 thousand standing in the audience. I was really excited to see many concertgoers of all ages singing and dancing to hit songs like “Air Force Ones” and “Dilemma.” “Dilemma” will always take me back to my clubbing days in the borderland circa 2002. I remember the song being played after last call at nightclubs in El Paso, Las Cruces and Juarez. I recall hearing “Dilemma” for the first time at The Cave in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The Cave was an older and smaller club nestled in the Juarez strip. Me and my friends sometimes went there after the other clubs closed at 2 a.m. The Cave stayed open until 3 a.m. We’d usually buy a bucket of Mexican beer and continue dancing. I’m not much of a dancer but when I have beer in me it’s a different story. Oh, such great college memories! Getting back to Saturday night…Nelly was pretty good at interacting with the crowd, especially towards the end of the set. Two of the concertgoers he interacted with on stage were from New Orleans and Denver. A Nelly concert wouldn’t be complete without him singing “Hot in Herre.” Nelly put on a hell of a show! I’d have to say his set was my favorite on day 1.

Nelly
Nelly

Another favorite was headliner J Balvin. The Colombian reggaeton singer had the crowd going. I saw him open for Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull in 2014 at the University of Texas- El Paso. Although I don’t like reggaeton that much, my favorite J Balvin hit is “Ginza.” The song has more 700 million hits on YouTube! I didn’t catch all of his set but I enjoyed what I saw and heard. One of the great things about NDMF is that it helps promote local bands from various music genres. Before Nelly, I caught Nico and the Silent Films. The best way to describe their music is mellow with a loud touch of rock at the end. The band has a nice and unique sound to them I’ve never heard. I included a video of their song called “Middle of the Road.”

J Balvin.jpg
J Balvin

Food

NDMF had its share of several local food trucks. Food trucks are a big deal here! Me and a friend met up on day 1. We had a hard time deciding what we wanted to eat. We finally decided on Crave Kitchen and Bar. She had a chicken sandwich and I had a Crave burger with fries. The hamburger had a really good flavor. It had lots of cheddar cheese and homemade Guinness steak sauce. Talk about a unique combination! The burger also had grilled onions on top of it. I don’t like onions so I quickly removed them. Crave offers $5 burger nights on Tuesdays. It was recently voted Best Burger by El Paso Times readers in 2016. Aside from its food truck, there are four locations around town. I would’ve liked trying their churro waffle with cinnamon ice cream and green chile mac and cheese. They offered the mac and cheese at NDMF but I was craving a burger instead. I’ll definitely have to check out Crave in the near future! Besides listening to the music, I had a great time relaxing in San Jacinto Plaza and walking around to see how others were enjoying their night. Please stay tuned for Day 2 of my NDMF review on Wednesday. You can also follow NDMF on their social media sites via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Artist photos courtesy of NDMF staff. 

Disclaimer: Although I attended the festival with press credentials, it did not guarantee a positive review. My truthful opinion is reflected in this review.

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