Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024: Buha 2030 are ready to fly to the future

By Oli Pritchard March 8, 2024
Buha 2030 ahead of their performance at Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024

Few genres divide audiences as much as jazz, which is perhaps why Buha 2030 are so sceptical of the label that was given to them by a previous reviewer. It’s easy to see where it comes from: saxophonist José David Díaz plays a central role. Like many Colombian bands though, they aren’t easy to lazily pigeonhole. Make your mind up at Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024

Gariela Ponce and the band Buha 2030 ahead of their performance at Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024
Ponce and the rest of Buha 2030

“It also combines a strident [sound] with my angelic voice,” says frontwoman Gabriela Ponce ahead of their show at Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024. She’s full of energy and bouncing with excitement, frequently bursting into raucous laughter as we talk. She moved from her native Nariño with Díaz and other founder member, bassist Camilo Portilla. They’re joined by new tolimense drummer Juan José Mejía Jiménez to make a powerful four.

Again, they are hard to put in a box. A Bogotá-formed band, but with firm roots miles away in Pasto. This suits them well. It’s a project that deliberately crosses lines and sidesteps labels. “I will say that Buha 2030 is an experiment with rock and improvised music,” Ponce clarifies, “and it is also rock without guitars and so it’s also been grouped in the [musical] vanguard.”

That saxophone is key, according to Ponce, herself a clarinet player, as it means they “connect with a classical sound. We have a wind section which makes it more harmonic.” It makes for a heady mix with a lot of high-end sounds crashing into each other before they twirl off into melodic typhoons that then evaporate to be replaced by another. 

Portilla’s bass acts as an anchor underpinning everything and holding onto the soaring sax and vocals. Ponce’s lyrics are also a vital component, as she explains “I’m singing about being fragile. It’s about wounds, nightmares and the bizarre. Intimate poetry, but also shamelessly public.” She sings clearly about fragility and self-doubt on last year’s single Todos Son Ingenuos, with a tender edge.

Todos Son Ingenuos is an example of sensitive and thoughtful lyrics by Buha 2030

What Buha 2030 have planned for Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024

This will be their biggest stage yet for them to play live, which is clearly something Ponce loves. “On the stage, we always have flexible spaces for improvisation, we don’t like to be tied to jazz. It’s not in that language, it’s more rocky and more local. I love to improvise but probably for this show that is so concrete in time I’ll have to be careful.”

In 2021 they released Amoral Inmortal, a striking piece of work that brought them to the attention of rolo music lovers. This autumn will see the launch of their new album Epoca, with a new sound, according to Ponce. “I think it’s less strident and more listener-friendly. Still, it’s anarchic and not searching for validation.” That’s good, because their chaotic side is one of their best, as seen in the intense, dizzying fury of Fea Monosílaba.

Neither fea nor monosílaba, but the track is gloriously chaotic and wild

As for their show on Thursday afternoon at Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024, Ponce shows no signs of nerves. She says, “We’re going to play a couple of new songs like Todos Son Inguenos and Cruzan but also the classics from the first album.” She hints at surprises, so there may be unreleased songs too. 

Neither are they purely an aural treat, she claims: “Of course, we’re going to have very cool visuals. As a rock band with wind, we always have a lot of force in the shows and the next one is never the same as the last because we always have this improvisation factor.” Check out what promises to be a unique show at the festival to see what all the noise is about. But – don’t flash your jazz hands.

Buha 2030 play at 5.15pm on Thursday March 21 on CeraVe stage at Festival Esteréro Picnic 2024 in Parque Simón Bolívar. Tickets still available here at time of publication.