Women in Music 2016

Argentinian Live Music Legend Daniel Grinbank Returns with BUE: 'A Festival With Our Own Spirit'

David Wolff - Patrick/Redferns
Iggy Pop performs at Le Grand Rex on May 15, 2016 in Paris.

Iggy Pop, Pet Shop Boys among acts to perform at pioneering impresario Daniel Grinbank’s comeback to the now-crowded Argentine festival scene.

Iggy Pop, Pet Shop Boys, Wilco, The Libertines, The Flaming Lips and Toots & the Maytals are among the artists announced for the BUE festival, set to take place in October 14 and 15 in Buenos Aires.

Argentine rock impresario Daniel Grinbank is behind the new festival, a pioneering Buenos Aires festival that, like Grinbank himself, is making a return to the city’s currently crowded live music scene -- Lollapalooza, Ultra, Creamfields and Sónar have all launched Buenos Aires iterations. In April, the dance community was shaken when five people died at the Time Warp festival; in a ruling in May, a judge re-enforced a moratorium on electronic music events that had been put in place right after the tragedy. Grinbank alluded to “the computerized programming of other festivals,” and suggested that while multinational promoters had succeeded in pulling off massive gatherings in Buenos Aires across genres, they had been ill-equipped to really comprehend the idiosyncrasies of the local audience, the country’s habitual economic challenges and social context.

Grinbank is now freed from a five-year non-compete agreement that had kept him from working the live music market he essentially created back in the '80s. (That non-compete, which ended in 2013, was the result of an agreement with Brazilian company Time For Fun, which acquired Grinbank's production company Rock & Pop in 2008.) Back then, a time when it was not uncommon for Americans to think that Buenos Aires was located in Brazil, Grinbank was drawing the map of South America for major international acts, promoters and brands.

“In Latin America we are absolutely peripheral,” he said, citing region-wide challenges that including huge distances to be traveled and a culture of corruption in which “it is easy to fall prey to phonies.” He added that promoters who attempt to carry out a homogenous strategy across different Latin American countries are sure to fail.

BUE, which premiered in 2004 and is back after a ten-year pause, will spotlight Argentine as well as international artists; they include indie singer-songwriter Juana Molina, Miss Bolivia, a rising artist who mixes cumbia, dancehall and hip hop; and popular alternative rock band Él Mató a un Policía Motorizado.

In 1988, Garcia joined Sting, Peter Gabriel and Bruce Springsteen onstage for the Grinbank-promoted Buenos Aires stop on the Human Rights Now! tour. The milestone event brought about 80,000 people to the River Plate Stadium.

Grinbank brought Prince, Bowie, Madonna, The Police, U2, Nirvana and many others to Buenos Aires. The Rolling Stones came for the first time in 1995; the Argentine producer was also responsible for a 2008 Stones concert on the beach Rio de Janeiro, which drew a crowd of two million. 

Grinbank negotiated the band’s latest visit to Argentina this past February, marking his official return after the lapse of his non-compete with Time For Fun. In the meantime, he undertook the production of a European tour for Disney’s Argentine teen sensation “Violetta.” It extended to 182 concerts, selling over a million tickets.

Grinbank’s current company DG Entertainment, has offices in Chile, Uruguay, Peru and Colombia, along with partners in Brazil.

“We want to develop our own content and recuperate the essence of what we have done as promoters,” he says. “I’ve been working in the entertainment industry for 40 years. The only constant thing about it is change.”