Mexico's Vive Latino Music Fest Grows, Eyes U.S. Expansion

The main stage at the Vive Latino music festival featured acts such as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Underworld and Porter on March 15. Despite light rains, the Foro Sol venue packed in thousands of music fans. (Justino Aguila)

Morrissey may have been a no-show at the Vive Latino music festival in Mexico City, but that didn't dampen the mood of thousands of music fans who crowded the six stages to see acts like American rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs, England’s Underworld and Mexico’s Porter.

The 14th installment of the festival that years ago was a one-day event now boasts a weekend-long showcase and is the largest privately sponsored Latin American festival in the world. It features a diverse mix of bands from up-and-coming acts throughout Latin America to established European acts like Blur and Morrissey, who ultimately cancelled the festival’s opening act due to health issues, forcing organizers to cancel the first day’s show.

But it hardly slowed down the crowd of about 50,000 (March 15)  who came to see some of  Latin America's best music from acts such as Mexican hardcore/punk/rock such Garroso, Spain's pop band Love of Lesbian and Argentina’s Sr. Flavio, who is also scheduled to perform Sunday with Los Fabulosos Cadillacs.

Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs takes the stage at the Vive Latino music festival in Mexico City on May 15 (AP)

Held at the Foro Sol, the massive festival attracts up to 200,000 fans a year that can choose between six stages. Additionally, there are film screenings, art exhibits and merch tents peppered throughout the festival.

Jordi Puig, the festival’s director, is now looking to extend Vive Latino’s success to the United States where more than 50 million Latinos reside.

"We're thinking of trying to do something with Vive Latino in the U.S., at some point," Jordi says. "It's something that we've been talking about for some time and it's a logical step."

Cookman International and Nacional Records president and owner Tomas Cookman and Ocesa Seitrack's Fabrizio "Mopri" Onetto take time to catch up at Vive Latino in Mexico City

Fabrizio “Mopri” Onetto, who works for Ocesa Seitrack and manages several bands such as Fobia and Angeles Azules, also sees the potential expansion of festival.

“Vive Latino has great relationships with other festivals such as SXSW and to see it go to a placelike Los Angeles or Austin would make sense,” Onetto said.

Major sponsors include Coca-Cola, Blackberry and Indio beer, all who have a very visible role at Vive Latino. Indio, for example, has a commemorative beer.

Vive Latino sponsor Coca-Cola has continuous live streaming of the festival with hosts Billy Mendez, Olivia Luna, Natty Villasana and Victor Delgadillo

In the case of Coca-Cola Mexico, a team of several hundred produce an online program called Coca-Cola TV. The effort looks like a major television production and it live-streams the event to fans in Mexico, at times reaching 1.5 million viewers who can see the show on a computer, tablet or cellular phone.

“The idea is to make Vive Latino accessible to those who can’t physically be here,” says Ernesto Almada, Coca-Cola Mexico’s interactive marketing manager. “We started off much smaller three years ago [when Coca-Cola became a major sponsor] and now this has grown tremendously.”

Coca-Cola marketing director Jose Luis Basauri says that the soda maker connects with consumers through their passions such as music and sports. Vive Latino is a perfect fit with Mexico’s booming youth demographic through music.

“We really work at making the Vive Latino experience possible through a social and interactive experience,” Basauri said. “One event may not translate to sales, but when as a brand you are present at events throughout the year, then you start to see the brand grow.”

Vive Latino continues through March 17.