I love attending music events in different parts of the world. Buenos Aires was no different for me and once I discovered La Bomba De Tiempo, I started to attend this event nearly every Monday. The tribal rhythm is an addictive sound that somehow controls you to move automatically. The conductor may even control you and tell you when to clap, jump, or sing. There’s nothing like it anywhere else and it takes place every Monday in the wonderful city of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Let’s start with the venue. The venue is called Konex and it’s located near the Centro neighborhood. Doors open at 7:00pm with an opening act till 8:00pm which is when Bomba De Tiempo starts. Usually the opening acts are students preforming. Lines are formed quite early and gets even larger by 8:00pm going 2 blocks or more down. The lines do go by fast, though on rainy days the line seems to go slower. Yes, the event does take place rain or shine. Admission is 20pesos. Inside, half the property has a large courtyard and the other inside. If it’s beautiful out, expect the preformers to play outside. It does get extremely hot and humid inside. It’s a very open spaced venue with no fans or anything to cool you down. Go as casual as you can because you will sweat, especially if it’s indoors. There’s no special lighting anywhere, only a projection which no one seems to look at anyway of the performers. Nothing fancy at all about the venue itself, just plain good music. Surprisingly, the building holds some amazing sound and you’ll hear those drums perfectly clear no matter where you are. Prices for drinks are pretty normal, 15 pesos for a liter of quilmes and do have a few other options.
The music genre varies however it’s still got the same elements. It’s got a combination of tribal, afrobeat, jazz, and whatever else they’re in the mood to play. The entire set is done live and played with percussions only. There are no premade tracks and entirely improvised. On the stage, there’s always a conductor. Their job is to tell the rest of the band when to play, what type of rhythm, when to stop, and every other type of communication to build a full song on the fly. What makes this even more interesting is that it’s all done with only hand signals. For example, having both your hands together and separating them could mean to allow more space between beats for a certain person depending who’s it’s pointed to. Some of the instruments used are congas, djembe, bells, small drums, and more with about a dozen members on stage playing them.
You have no choice, you will dance. There’s an energy in the crowd that’s uncontrolable and addictive. The energy starts a bit more slow paced at first. Playing the crowd is their specialty. They love to interact with the crowd. You should expected to contribute to the music right along with the band as they signal the beat. I remember once the conductor signaled for all of us to bend down to the ground while the band plays a slow light beat when suddenly the conductor jumps and signals for a fast paced loud drumming which in that exact moment everyone jumped and went wild. Another time, they had us clapping in a rythm in which the band had to mimic – even done by sections of the crowd. By 9pm, Bomba De Tiempo introduces a special guest which varies every week. I’ve seen singers, guitars, synths, sax, violins, and more. It’s something different every week and it adds something unique to the band. By 9:30 or so, the guest takes off and it’s time for all out mind blowing vibe. The pace picks up and by 10:00pm, you will be jumping in the center mosh pitting with everyone else. The band usually pretends to play their last song but an encore riots in their Argentinean ways to get them back for one more. It works and the crowd just goes mental. Knowing that it’s the absolute last song, the entire place goes into another level. By the end of this, your adrainalin is sky rocketing.
It’s a guaranteed great time. Many locals, backpackers, and expats attend every Monday. Great place to hear high energy music, cheap night out, make friends, and explore something new in Buenos Aires.
I went so often that I started to get more creative. Here’s what I did for a more interesting and cheaper night out for this event:
- The whole thing is from 7pm till 10pm. You’ll be hyper and motivated to go elsewhere after this. Perhaps make plans on what to do after.
- Go early and don’t eat before going. By 7am or earlier. It may seem too early but here’s why on the next steps.
- Buy beer from the corner shop. Looking directly at Konex building, go left and at the end of the street there’s a small convientance store. Many of the locals buy beer here before going to the venue and that’s exactly what you’ll be doing. A Quilmes should cost I believe 7 pesos for a liter (Maybe if you’re lucky they sell a 1/2 liter). They’ll ask you if you’re going to return the bottle. Say yes. They’ll write down on a piece of paper 2 Pesos, save that paper.
- Now you got a beer in one hand, walk around and hang out. There are tons of people doing what you’re doing just drinking in the streets near the building. Make some friends, practice your Spanish, or tag along with other travelers.
- With a beer in one hand, buy some food from the street to carry on your other hand. There are a ton of home cooked foods from people selling them right outside of the Konex building. It’s super cheap (10pesos or less) and simply delicious food. Highly recommend getting the burritos and asking for his spicy sauce. The pizza rolls are great as well. If you see brownies or cookies, ask what’s in them (hint, hint).
- When you’re ready to start going inside, go back to the corner shop and get your 2 pesos back using the piece of paper they gave you.
- Get on the line and get ready for an amazing performance.
- Venue: Konex, Sarmiento 3131
- Time: Start time 7pm, Bomba de Tiempo starts at 8pm, Ends at 10pm
- Day: Every Monday, Rain or shine
- La Bomba De Tiempo Website
- Facebook Page
Here’s to their 4 year anniversary and still going strong!
Update Jan 2013: Since attending this again two years later, a lot has changed. There’s now an enormous outside stage and a lot more people. Another major change is that street food is not really served before the show. A few stalls at around 8PM but not really much else. Most of the good food is served after the show. They also did a major crackdown on the special cookies and brownies outside and no longer serve that. Prices have obviously gone up as well.