As Los Aptos played onstage, two figures stood nearby, recording the performance on their phones. They were Juan Ortega Sr. and Leticia Ortega, who beamed from ear to ear as they watched their son, vocalist Juan Ortega Jr., sing the band’s sierreño tracks.

“I’m so proud, I could cry,” Juan, 54, said. “I love music and always wanted to be a singer. Watching him up there is a dream come true.”

The band, whose 40-minute set included a mixture of their own music and cover songs — from “Miel” to “Devueltame a Mi Chica” by Los Hombres G — was part of the De Los showcase Friday night at the South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas.

Los Aptos drove nearly 17 hours to perform at the De Los showcase at SXSW in Austin, Texas, on March 15, and vocalist Juan Ortega Jr.’s proud parents were there to watch.

(Cat Cardenas/For De Los)

Ortega, 21, told the band, which drove nearly 17 hours from Indiana, was “really happy and appreciative to be here.”

“We put in that work, so we’re excited to turn the stage up,” added Daniel Vaides, the band’s keyboardist.

The showcase, held at Latino-owned venue La Factoria, kicked off with Puerto Rican artist Nohemy, who shared that she played college basketball prior to pivoting to music.

Nohemy performs her self-described "hype music" at the De Los showcase at SXSW on March 15.

Nohemy performs her self-described “hype music” at the De Los showcase at SXSW on March 15.

(Cat Cardenas/For De Los)

Nohemy electrified the room with her self-proclaimed “hype music,” which included reggaeton track “On Top” and “Calle,” a song that had attendees chanting “Traa! Bring!” in between verses.

“Once I found out I was coming to [SXSW]and I was going to perform here with the LA Times, I was excited and excited,” she said.

Toward the end of her set, Nohemy became emotional, explaining to the crowd that her next song, “Lalala,” was about being infatuated with another woman. She shared that her parents had not yet accepted her queer identity after she came out to them.

“I have amazing parents, I respect everyone’s beliefs. I just wanted to share that with you guys because maybe I would feel better,” she said.

Up next were the Tiarras, a trio formed by sisters Tiffany, Sophia and Tori Baltierra. The Austin-born siblings, whose dad was present to watch them rock out, delivered Chicana rock about empowerment, love and culture — with a special shout-out to the strong women for the “path that you have paved for us.”

That included a tribute to late singer Selena Quintanilla, as the Tiarras put their own spin on classic “Como La Flor.” The sisters also performed “Let Love Free,” “They Don’t See Us” and “Soy Chingona,” a song dedicated to confident Latinas.

The Tiarras, a band of Austin-born sisters, perform at the De Los showcase at SXSW on March 15.

The Tiarras, a band of Austin-born sisters, perform at the De Los showcase at SXSW on March 15.

(Cat Cardenas/For De Los)

“We’re all for supporting Latinidad culture,” Tori said of the all-Latino lineup. “We are Mexican Americans. We are fourth generation, so it’s awesome to be able to showcase with our own people… it means everything.”

The third act of the evening was Bodine, a Miami-based Latin R&B artist who embraced sensuality and heartbreak in what was her fourth live performance ever. Wearing a silver-accented outfit, Bodine got the crowd dancing with tracks like “Lo Nuestro”—a song about a first love whom she “ended up hating” toward the end of their time together. And then she turned up the heat with “Nalgaje,” a song she joked was about her favorite subject — the human rear.

Bodine onstage in what was her fourth live performance ever at the De Los showcase at SXSW on March 15.

Bodine onstage in what was her fourth live performance ever at the De Los showcase at SXSW on March 15.

(Cat Cardenas/For De Los)

Bodine said there’s plenty of more music on the way as she continues to work harder in the studio, and that she relished the opportunity to perform in front of a live crowd.

“I’ve been studying music as a kid, dreaming of representing Puerto Rico worldwide,” she said. “And I think this is a huge start here in Austin, Texas.”

Friday marked Pink Pablo’s last night at SXSW after a set at Rolling Stone’s Future of Music showcase and Radio Day Stage on Wednesday. He welcomed the crowd by beckoning them to come closer to the stage, adding, “We’re family here.”

For his last performance, Pink Pablo sang “Falco” from his 2023 EP, “road 2 neverland,” as well as new single “Low Key.” The Puerto Rico-born singer, whose music is a mixture of pop punk with urban, left a potential career in psychology to fulfill his music dreams, and said he was at SXSW to make his mom proud.

“We’re on the right track,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to be done, but this feels gratifying. Very gratifying.”

Polo Gonzalez closed out the night at the De Los showcase at SXSW on March 15.

Polo Gonzalez closed out the night at the De Los showcase at SXSW on March 15.

(Cat Cardenas/For De Los)

Sporting a red letterman jacket, Jalisco-born singer Polo González closed out the night with Mexican music. The TikTok personality opened with “Caso Perdido” and “Fin de Semana,” interacting between verses with a crowd that recorded every second of González’s performance on their cellphones.

“I always practice by myself at home, so performing in front of people and having them listen to my songs — it’s a testament to all the hard work,” González said after his set, just as the lights came up.

The De Los showcase was among several at SXSW that focused exclusively on Latin music, which had a bigger presence at the festival than in previous years. One of the biggest stars at SXSW this year was Peso Pluma, who had fans lining up for hours to see him headline Rolling Stone’s Future of Music showcase.



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