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NOLF and the rise of Lando Chill

Tucson's fourth annual Night of the Living Fest commences this weekend at 191 Toole. Spanning three days and more than two-dozen acts, the fest's already a local tradition, meant to tie in with Halloween and the All Souls Procession. Along with the Southwest Terror Fest, which takes over downtown a little prior to the NOLF each year, these events offer incredibly diverse and top-tier (for the genre) acts in a vibrant setting.

The first NOLF, organized by Ben Schneider and Leann Cornellius (of the local bands Whoops and Acorn Bcorn, respectively), was a one-day affair at Old Tucson that utilized the western nostalgia in the buildings and attractions on the movie set's grounds. The idea was to take downtown Tucson to a sort of foreign backdrop and it worked—NOLF at Old Tucson is still being talked about.

The problem was that people en masse didn't want to make the trip to that location, so for better and for worse, the fest is now downtown.

As for the performers, the NOLF has consistently hosted indie legends like the Meat Puppets, garage-rock heavyweights like Death Valley Girls and Tucson's own Resonars along with rap acts that generally appeal to rock audiences like People Under the Stairs. This year, fest organizers scored big with New Orleans' bounce royalty Big Freedia. And the line-up is always rounded out with some of the best rock, hip-hop and electronic performers that Tucson has in its perimeter.

Lando Chill, whose popularity and success will probably see him break soon from the mostly inaccurate label of "local artist" that's pinned to him now, is an artful hip-hop artist who returns to NOLF this year, after making his first high-profile live appearance at last year's event.

This year, Lando has released a critically acclaimed album, For Mark, Your Son, which was reissued on the Mello Music Group label, earned a respectable review in Pitchfork, and graced the cover of this newspaper in a story written by Heather Hoch. He's also toured, become one of Tucson's preeminent live attractions and continues to add to his achievements on a regular basis.

His lyrics and flow, while not too dissimilar from many of today's underground rappers, veers from personal autobiographical flashbacks to righteous proclamations regarding his environment. And his voice is a sinewy instrument that moves effortlessly between light crooning and percussive clipping. Even without lyrics, Lando's vocals are stunning.

So Lando Chill returns to the NOLF this year, but the more interesting proposition—and reason enough to show up to the Fest—is finding out who will be this year's Lando Chill?


More by Joshua Levine

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