Houston Music

Sur Fest Shines A Light On Houston's Latin Rock

Surfest will hold it's ninth annual Latino music festival on Friday, February 26 at The Continental Club.
Surfest will hold it's ninth annual Latino music festival on Friday, February 26 at The Continental Club. Artwork by Facundo Emmanuel Mansilla
There is no denying the strong Latino presence in our city.  Every day individuals come to Houston from Central and South America looking for a better future bringing with them their own cultures while adapting to their new environment.

One music festival has been celebrating the city’s Latino music community for the past eight years and this year, will do it again. The ninth annual Sur Fest will take place on Saturday, February 26 at The Continental Club.

Sur Fest will host 14 bands performing throughout the night on the large indoor stage of the main club, the outdoor stage in the backyard and the more intimate room of the adjoining Shoeshine Charley’s Big Top Lounge.

“It’s about making a common place where people can come and have the experience of seeing 14 bands in one day, of course they will miss some because it’s impossible to see it all,” says festival organizer Pablo Devera.

“Everyone involved lives in Houston and I want to shine a light on this community because they deserve it and there is so much talent here,” says Devera of the songwriters chosen to perform at his event.

Every year Devera and his team look for local artists who fit the bill for the Sur Fest with their original songs based in rock and roll. “I think that this scene is an island inside of Houston and the United States where we are a generation of artists that grew up with MTV Latino and we came to the United States for different reasons in life.”

“We are not just people from Latin America but also the locals who opened the doors for us like Lupe Olivares who opened the door for all these people who want to be musicians,” says Devera who counts Olivares as a performer during the festival.

This years lineup includes Elyze, Satri, The Pew, Dime Que Si, Segunda Nave, The Glass, KRONIKA, Alejandro Federico Tort, Vosotros, Charly Siaba and the headliner ZRDK featuring Fer Martz from Monterrey, Mexico making this the first year that Sur Fest is bringing in out of town talent.

Martz was the co-founder of the ‘90s mainstream Latino rock group Zurdok, one of the most influential Mexican rock bands of the time and his performance will definitely expand the reach of this event.

Sur Fest began with three bands at the now defunct Mangos and has steadily grown with time. From Mango’s, Devera moved the event to the also now shuttered, Alley Kat before landing on the legendary Continental Club stage where his event had room to grow and house many bands in one night allowing attendees to experience multiple vibes in one night.

“The concept of Sur Fest is to bring a little of our musical culture, not only traditional music which we do have, but also rock, pop and all of its variations,” describes Devera who intentionally plans the evening for each stage to fit the sound with the larger stage dedicated to the heavier hitting acts of the evening.

Despite the city's large Latino presence, Sur Fest is one of the only events of its kind not only in Houston, but around the nation. Devera is thankful for the relationship with The Continental Club and the opportunity to host his event there again as the space lends itself to his concept for the festival and has also been a strong supporter of Houston’s Latino community.

“We could say that Los Skarnales have been the most successful Latino band from Houston and that has helped us have a great relationship with The Continental and those that have come after them,” says Devera of the club's long history of hosting Latino rock bands.

Devera immigrated to Houston from Buenos Aires and quickly found himself a group of like-minded musicians who also came here looking for a better life. He founded two groups, Espantapajaros and his English language project Silver Sunshine.

Language differences aside, there is bound to be something for everyone as good rock and roll knows no limits and listeners don’t necessarily need to understand the language to feel the vibe.

“I’d like for people to know that whether you are Spanish speaking or not, this is a capsule of some of the artistic microclimate of Buenos Aires or Mexico. Anyone who likes music and comes to the festival is sure to like more than one of the bands,” says Devera.

Sur Fest will take place on Saturday, February 26 at The Continental Club, 3700 Main, 7 p.m., $25-30.
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Gladys Fuentes is a first generation Houstonian whose obsession with music began with being glued to KLDE oldies on the radio as a young girl. She is a freelance music writer for the Houston Press, contributing articles since early 2017.
Contact: Gladys Fuentes