First-ever SIMS International Music Summit hits Medellin

By James Rosenfield March 5, 2018

El Nuevo Coyote at SIMS. Photo courtesy of Jonathon Hernandez/ESPACIO.

The inaugaral SIMS International Music Summit whizzed by last week and The Bogotá Post sent writer Jamie Rosenfield to Selina Hostel to check out some of the acts on display.

When I got to Selina Hostel, where the first ever SIMS International Music Summit was held, I was greeted by a kaleidoscopic vision of colorfully-clad humans as well as a warm and wacky atmosphere. Facilitated by the minimalist architecture in the cavernous main room and combined with strategically-placed gardens around the floor–complete with bright red 1970s convertible–the venue felt surreal.

Reaching for a gin and tonic at the bar in the center of the main room, I placed myself in front of punk-rock band Teatro Union . The guitarist, wearing a bright gold kimono, was thrashing out raw power-chords and yelling gravelly Spanish words into the mic with an energy that would make the Sex Pistols proud. The rolling bass lines and syncopated drumbeat kept me curious.

After a couple songs, I decided to check out the act in the next room, a concrete-walled concert hall with very high ceilings. Crudo Means Raw was a paisa attempting to put Medellín on the underground hip-hop map. He threw down his signature hard-hitting rhymes over a buttery-smooth jazz beat, mixed by his selector on the decks behind him.

He sang his songs well and with energy, but I couldn’t help but feel like he was rushed for time. It felt like a medley, where he was trying to fit as many songs in as possible without fully finishing any of them, and I feel like the festival should have given him a longer slot to really showcase his talent. I was excited when he dropped into my favorite, the dark and danceable “Sangre en el Pool Party,” but was very disappointed when he stopped singing after about 30 seconds, and his act ended.

He was followed by another paisa hip-hop act – Doble Porción. With a similar style to Crudo Means Raw, I felt a consistent theme had developed between the acts. Doble Porción had an infectious stage-presence that spread to the crowd, who started dancing harder than they had all night. The hip-hop duo were loud and in charge, jumping around the stage and singing with an almost-precocious rawness, as the jazz-influenced hip-hop beat pumped out of the speakers.


I left the room very satisfied with Doble Porción, and I feel there is a real future for paisa hip-hop. It was time for my most anticipated part of the night – the late-night house and techno at Salón Amador, a swanky nightclub in Provedencia that was included in the 20,000 peso wristband. As we entered the club, we were greeted by the pulsing sounds of high-BPM tech-house. The DJ, Caro Fox, was getting the new arrivals from Selina Hostel moving with her tense builds and cathartic drops. Her compatriot, Isabella Roldán, continued the party around 1:30am. The club atmosphere was in full swing by now – the tech-house synth and bass were accompanied by a beautiful, strobing LED light system that made it look as if the crowd were dancing in stop-motion.

I reveled in the international dance party in front of the DJ booth – I was surrounded by a lovely German couple, a wild Irishman, and various other locals. There is something about dance music that brings people together in a way no other music really can, and the next act had that “something” I really look for in a DJ set. De La Swing, who started at 2AM, told a story with his set. It wasn’t simply builds and drops into the same beat over and over – there was a steadily building groove, with psychedelic clips of vocals layered over acidic, squelching synth noises. I felt there was a steady flow from one track into the next, and the set was cohesive and consistent. The music got progressively heavier and darker, and the entranced crowd couldn’t have stopped moving if they’d wanted to. Eventually I had to tear myself away, as it was a Thursday and I had work the next morning.

I left the SIMS music conference content with having seen an eclectic mix of several different genres of Medellin’s finest musicians. The 20,000 peso cover for three days of music at three different venues was incredible, and the sheer volume of activities at the conference made it more than worth it. There is no doubt in my mind I’ll be back at the next one.