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'Eclectic' lineup for HOCO 2018

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This fall artists from around the world will make their way to Tucson to mark the start of HOCO fest, a festival at Hotel Congress dedicated to celebrating music and culture both locally and globally that will run from August 29 through Sept. 2.

All walks of life are welcome to attend five-nights of concerts with over 75 different artists from many genres of music including rap, rock and roll, folk, latin, goth, the blues and even comedians, according to the dIrector of the festival and talent buyer at Hotel Congress, Matt Baquet.

“This year we have a great eclectic lineup,” Baquet said.

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The festival has showcased Tucson musicians for 13 years and has recently expanded to including international performers from Europe, Canada and Mexico. A few of the artists include Bad Gyal from Spain, S.H.I.T. from Toronto, Dean Blunt from London and Latin artists from the Mexican Institute of Sound.  

“The foreign artists bring a little bit of their culture to our community and it becomes a very vibrant week to be downtown and to be hanging around Hotel Congress because you have all sorts of different folks hanging out,” Baquet said.

Courtesy C. Elliott
Orkesta Mendoza plays at the 2017 HOCO Fest in downtown Tucson. This is the second year that the festival reached out to have international bands perform.

This is only the second year the festival has been rebranded into an international destination event. Last years international focus included musical artists from Orlando, Virginia, New York, London and Berlin.

“The spirit of hotel congress is that anyone is welcome here at anytime, so we thought our festival should properly portray that,” Baquet said.

The festival will kick off Wednesday, Aug. 29 and run until Sunday Sept. 2 with multiple events on stages downtown and on fourth avenue. The main stage is at the historic Hotel Congress and the newly added stages will be at 191 tool or Cans Deli.  

“We’re expanding the festival to add more stages so we will have shows at 191 Toole and Cans Deli going on while we have shows at Hotel Congress,” Baquet said.

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Some of the highlights that will be performing are Lil B aka the BasedGod, Andrew W.K., Topaz Jones from Brooklyn, Destruction Unit from Phoenix and comedian Kyle Kinane.

As part of the HOCO fest tradition and to showcase all the talent Tucson has to offer, Positive Satan, Sui Blue and the Street Blues Family are all local artists that will be perfoming as well. 

"I've played festivals of all sizes, all over the world, and HOCO fest is definitely one of the best there is, no question," Jesse Barnett, Arizona local and band member of Destruction Unit, said.

Barnett is looking forward to seeing fellow performers Dean Blunt, Mhysa, Bearcat, Debit, Bad Gyal, and Lil B.

While the fun is jam-packed into one weekend, Baquet and his team spend a whole year preparing for this international event. The behind the scenes work Baquet did to put on the festival including lining up schedules, promoting and getting sponsors, according to Baquet.

HOCO Fest 2018 will also feature Pool Parties, After Parties, a Yoga event, a Hoco Flea Market; that will feature local record vendors, food and clothes vendors, followed by The HOCO Fest Poster Sale.

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Not only does it take time to plan the event, but it takes the hotel staff time and energy to mentally and physically prepare to host a festival.

Cameron Fischer, a bartender at Hotel Congress, says it's imperative to eat healthy and drink a lot of water to stay physically fit enough to work the event. 

“I love bartending this event because the crowd is usually a lot of fun.  Its also amazing to make a cocktail for a celebrity,” Fischer said.  

Fischer is looking forward to Andrew W.K. and a local band called Surblock.

“Surblock is one of the best live performances you will see,” Fischer said.   

Last year around 7000 music lovers attended HOCO, and Baquet expects to see the same or more people this year.  

In hopes to reach out to younger fans, HOCO will have concerts that are 16 and up on most of the days at several locations. 

“We really wanted to reach out to the younger generation and not let them feel like they're left out on this festival because having the youth involved is super important to us and having the line up we have this year caters to UA,” Baquet said.

The shows at Hotel Congress on Wednesday and Thursday will be 16 and up and the shows Friday and Saturday will be 21 and up.  However, on Friday and Satday there will be shows at the other stages at 191 Toole and Cans Deli for 16 and up.

Baquet urges under 21 year old UA students to attend the events at Hotel Congress because its a unique opportunity to see the venue because normally it’s a bar.

Tickets are 20 dollars and students can buy them on the UA mall through KAMP radio on August 29, online or at Hotel Congress. 

Pascal Albright
Bruce Smith, owner of Cassidy Collectibles, talks with a customer at the Vinyl Record Fair as part of the HOCO Fest put on by Hotel Congress.

 

“Someone might look at the lineup and not know every artist but hopefully they see the price being so low they are willing to give it a chance and find some new favorites,” Baquet said.

With so many genres of music and different types of people attending the festival, Baquet says every year he sees new friendships form.

“At the end of the day it really brings eclectic and diverse groups of people together and that's kind of what Hotel Congress is all about,” Baquet said.


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