Once a year, Nosara fills with music. People from Nosara, San Jose and all around the world come to the coastal town to enjoy bands like Sonambulo, Alphabetics, Mumble Riot, Ave Negra, 424, Cocofunka, Un Rojo and Chinese Beasts during the Caricaco music festival.
The creator and director of this emerging musical event is Alejandro Gutierrez, who at 34 years old, is a family man, a surfer, a doctor and a singer for the well-known ska punk band Calle Dolores. It has been nine years since he moved to Nosara and five since the first Caricaco.
The festival this year was three days in a row instead of just one, as it usually was. Here is an interview with Gutierrez:
Did the festival exceed expectations?
“Yes, totally. We didn’t have the attendance that we expected but that doesn’t keep me up at night. The purpose I had for this year was to improve the logistics, the location, the way of doing things, as well as media growth, getting the word out. Obviously, without people, there’s no event, but there were also factors against it. We were not prepared before March and it was complicated in March due to the events and festivals going on then. In addition, this event gives a boost to Nosara as the last weekend of high season already before everything falls into recession.
If we took the festival as a single event, I would say that maybe about 1100 people attended, 40 percent being locals from the area.”
Having chosen this large venue, were you expecting a lot of people?
“More than for convenience, this place was chosen for the potential and the beauty it has. To me, it seems like such a unique place for holding an event and it also gives the freedom to do whatever one wants. Not so much for convenience since access is a bit complicated. From the beginning, I knew that I would need 5000 people minimum to fill this place. There are people who like it crowded and others who don’t. In addition, there are no complaints about the noise.”
How did the idea for having this festival come about?
“At a meeting during the birthday of a friend, the owner of Tierra Magnifica, which was the place where we did it before. He told me he was interested in having a musical event in his hotel. I offered my help due to the contacts I had with some bands in San Jose. What we did was bring three national groups, which were: La Milixia, Hippo and Kurt Dyer. That’s how it started in 2010.”
Where does the name Caricaco come from?
“When we started to do it with this gringo, Steve, we were talking about the name and he had the idea Latin Lollapalooza. I could not even believe it. I kept thinking about it and I don’t know why caricaco (hermit crab) came to mind. To me, the name seemed catchy, plus it gives a very clear idea of where this is going to be done. This is something directly related to the beach. And not just the geographical area; immediately one thinks of sitting in the sand under a tree, watching the snails walk while listening to the sea. This is also a state of mind. “
As director of the festival, do you have a board or a team to help you?
“I have a problem with delegating, which sometimes makes things more complicated. This year, there are six of us in all who are planning this. I wish that more local people had a stronger commitment to the festival. It is the only way that the festival can grow.”
What ideas do you have in mind for the festival to grow?
“I would like to do two days in Finca Austria, incorporate a little international music and a camp. That would be a way to attract more people. Give them more facilities so it isn’t so expensive and complicated. That is my short-term plan.
Long term, what I would like is to make Nosara a music destination, that both national and international groups hear about the area and know that there is a movement of good live music and that they want to come. Eventually I hope to be able to do a week of musical, athletic, recreational and artistic activities, always ending with a two or three-day finale in Finca Austria.”
How were bands selected for the festival?
“Although I’m not in San Jose, I follow all of what the bands are doing closely. When I go to San Jose, I go to all of the concerts that I can. It is about following everything that is happening, and you see what groups have been improving, what ones have been striving to polish their sound and professionalize what they are doing. What we look for are those who are in a better position and are going to get people to move.”
What would you say was the best moment musically?
“I am a big fan of Mumble Riot and I think that their presentation was very cool, as well as Ave Negra. They had a lot of energy. There are always difficult moments when it’s early and I think they performed very well. Also 424, which has a very solid stage presence. I am impressed with the bite they have when they give their concerts.”
In this year’s festival, was there any challenge or complication that made it hard?
“Yes, a bunch. The first challenge that occurred was extending it to three days of music events at night. The second was improving the site so it looked better than last year and for there to be more organization. Getting the permits was also difficult, more than a challenge— I would say it’s like giving birth. This year, they changed all of the procedures. It’s a mess. We had a ton of complications. On Wednesday, it rained lightly and on Thursday, there was a torrential downpour. This caused a total panic that it would rain the following days and no one would want to come, or that equipment would be damaged as well and that everything would get wet.”
What rewards came from the festival?
“I treasure the experience of working with people, which always unites us. There are good times and bad times, but the truth is that I had an excellent experience with the people who worked with me, which is what satisfies me the most. I hold onto the satisfaction that we could achieve something that exceeded the expectations of what we had. Knowing that one or two or 400 people are going to return to Nosara because they fell in love and that this will benefit the community gives me satisfaction. And I am left with the satisfaction that the event went well. I have never made money with this. There is no formula. The only thing you can do is sell tickets, get a percentage of profit from the liquor and T-shirts, and pray,” he laughed.