Just like people everywhere in the world people in Paraguay enjoy listening to live music.
However with Paraguay being off the tourist trail it is also off the route taken by most touring artists when they visit South America.
With a more established infrastructure and a larger potential audience countries such as Argentina and Brazil have a far greater pull on a bands time and resources.
Some bands though do venture here and are almost universally pleased with the experience. The rarity of events guarantees large crowds and an enthusiastic welcome. Any visiting band is also liable to find themselves to be front page news with the local press eager to be seen promoting their visit in a positive light.
These large shows that sometimes occur no more than two or three times a year are also important to local Paraguayan musicians. Without them, no matter how good a band may be, they are restricted to playing small shows to loyal audiences.
These large shows headlined by international acts breathe life into the local music scene. Being few and far between every one is much anticipated and long remembered.
With Asuncion being by far the largest city in the country it is the obvious location for musical events. With just a few exceptions, if you want to listen to live music Asuncion is where you must head.
One of those exceptions is traditional Paraguayan music which being part of the culture of Paraguay can be heard regularly in every town and village across the land.
I though am thinking modern rock and pop music which although hugely popular world wide has little to do with the traditional cultures of any lands.
So it is to Asuncion that one almost always must travel to enjoy a live music event.
There are around the city a number of bars and clubs that put on bands. These are generally where local bands can play. Places that are not to expensive to book for the night and that are of the right size to accommodate their audience.
Occasionally an overseas band may play one of these smaller venues. A band that is visiting Paraguay and wants something more intimate than a stadium to play in.
I have been to a few shows in clubs and bars. Always friendly places. Often their is a party atmosphere about the place with most of the audience knowing each other. The circle of dedicated music lovers in Asuncion is quite small and you tend to meet the same people again and again.
As such whenever I go to see a band in an Asuncion club I can be sure of meeting people I know.
With the more relaxed air almost like a party it is not uncommon for the music not to start until well after midnight.
At the other end of the scale are the stadium events that occur just a few times every year.
These on the whole are outdoor events. The evenings in Paraguay are generally well suited to bring outside. For most of the year warm evenings are assured. Furthermore there little in the way of large indoor venues available as alternatives.
The locations best suited to holding large events are the old Jockey club and a couple of the modern football stadiums.
Of these the best suited is the Jockey club. It ceased to be used as a race track many years ago and so is well used to holding all manner of large events. It is a large open and flat area of grass ideally suited for the setting up of stages and all the other paraphernalia of a music event.
The site is secure being surrounded by a permanent fence and has a smooth clear system for entry and exit that has been refined over the years. Furthermore being on a main road on the edge of Asuncion access is not a problem.
I have been to a number of events there over the years and have only ever had a good experience.
The couple of football stadiums in Asuncion that also hold events are more modern with better facilities, but on the whole festival goers are happy to stand in a field.
With Covid shutting much of the world down for a couple of years all such activities came to a halt. So as the restrictions came to an end people looked forward to the return of touring bands and the chance to enjoy live music once more.
I have recently been to one of the first shows after the pandemic. As I knew there would be there was a large enthusiastic crowd there looking forward to listening once more to overseas bands.
That particular event was called Kilkfest and took the form of a two night festival spread over three days.
Due to the format and the weather I just attended the first night. As it happened all but one of the bands I wanted to see were playing on the first night, so that worked out fine.
I would have also needed to stay in a hotel for three days for two nights out. That only the most expensive hotels had rooms available for all three nights persuaded me that staying for just the one night would be best. Furthermore the heavy rain forecast for the final night was not at all appealing.
So in the end I headed into Asuncion for just one night. Not having to pay for those extra nights I found a comfortable mid range one rather than somewhere cheap and basic.
Whilst the selection of hotels worked out just fine I was not so lucky with the weather. It started to rain soon after I arrived in Asuncion and did not stop until early evening.
I was able to head out in the dry but before I arrived it returned and I was soon soaked. It would be another hour or two before the rain finally stopped and by then it would have been difficult to be much wetter, also through the passage of thousands of festival goers much of the grass had turned to soft mud.
I was not though going to let a little bit of mud and water spoil my night out.
There were two stages set up in the Jockey Club to allow music to be played continually. One stage would be reset whilst a band play on the other.
Between the two stages I listened to several band but it was the two headlining acts who were both playing on the larger of the two stages that I had come to see. Thankfully by the time the first of them began their set the rain had finally stopped.
Those were both international bands taking their festival tour around South America and making a stop off in Paraguay along the way.
The first of them was Interpol and the other The Arctic Monkeys. Both played good sets in front of an enthusiastic audience. I may not have been right at the front but I was certainly far nearer the stage than I would have been able to be at a European festival.
It was getting towards 1am when The Arctic Monkeys set drew to a close and I headed back to my hotel having had a fine night out looking forward to my next opportunity to listen to some live music.