While everyone was focused on the last-minute departure of Kanye West and the quick replacement of The Weekend and Swedish House Mafia with Coachella, something was happening outside of the festival’s top line: regional Mexican bands and Latin American bands, including those which they sang only in Spanish, they were scattered throughout the program.
Near the top was Banda M.S. from Mazatlán, a frequent haunt for those of us who live in central Mexico, and one that I have visited although not on holiday. The MS in the group’s name represents Michoacán, the state beyond Lake Chapala, and the state of Sinaloa. They moved a crowded audience with their first hit, El Mechón, and things moved on from there.
In Banda MS, people danced and waved Mexican flags to songs like “El Color de Tus Ojos” and “Hermosa Experiencia” and some “Qué Maldicion” originally recorded with Snoop Dog. The 50-minute set was also filled with their hits “Por Mí No Te Detengas”, “Ojos Cerrados” and “Háblame de Ti”, to the delight of the audience, who seemed to know the lyrics quite well, at least from the beginning. Videos on YouTube that I saw (there weren’t).
The second weekend also featured Grupo Firme from Tijuana, which energized a crowd of thousands who screamed their hit “El Tóxico”. And on Sunday, of course, Coachella debuted Nathanael Cano, who combines rock, rap and pop with the Mexican genre of storytelling, corridos. Ed Maverick from Chihuahua brought his singer-songwriter, folk, alternative and rock mashup to Coachella on Sunday, making the day an important day for Latin American music.
Other Latin American artists, both English and Spanish, include Karol G, Niki Nicole, Anitta,
Alaina Castillo, Nati Peluso and Latino Jessica Reyes, along with Mexican-American bands Chicago Batman, Cuco, Ela Minus, Omar Apollo, Pabllo Vittar and The Marias.
So why are all the Latin and Mexican bands now? And why did three regional Mexican bands gather at Coachella this year, and not national icons?
Just look at the numbers. MRC, which tracks music trends in a joint project with Billboard, said in its 2021 annual report that U.S. Latin music consumption grew 21.1% (total album consumption) in 2021, more than any other major music genre. . The number of Latin American albums purchased and streamed in the US has reached 48.2 million, up from 39.8 million in 2020, making Latin music the fifth most popular music genre in the US.
According to the report, last year’s consumption of Mexican and Latin American music was concentrated in states with large Hispanic populations, which is not surprising since all states with high consumption of Latin American music except Florida were Mexico until 1848 and the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo.
But don’t think that so many Latino bands play at Coachella and other popular festivals just because the growing Latino population likes them. They are, but everyone has them. Whether it’s Bad Bunny, Karol G, The Marias or anyone else playing reggaeton, the audience is a mixed culture. And all-Spanish lyrics aren’t a deterrent – people love Latin beats, even if they only pick up a few words from the text.
Mexican-Spanish music existed in the US even before the US came in the 1500s in St. Augustine and later in the 1760s when colonists from Mexico introduced the guitar, the six-string vihuela, and the smaller four-string and five-string ones. instruments in the southwest of what is now the United States.
By the 1930s, a number of Mexican radio stations in California’s Central Valley were playing norteños and mariachis for farm workers. On the other side of the country, Cuban music landed in New York in the 40s with Arsenio Rodriguez, Desi Arnes and later La Lupe. During the rock revolution, Latin Americans performed songs such as “La Bomba”, “Tequila” and “bosa nova”.
Not surprisingly, regional Mexican group Groupo Firme sold out the Staples Center in Los Angeles in 7 nights, just one night short of the record set by Adele.
It’s also not hard to see why the American music audience, especially the younger fans, love Mexican regional music so much. They grew up with Latin American beats, with friends from Latin America or friends of Mexican origin, or even dreamers who immigrated from Mexico as children… and brought their music with them.
Thus, the local Mexican artists and numerous Latin American musicians performing at Coachella are not innovative or trend-setting – they follow the audience and represent another step in the history of sin fronteras music – music without borders.