Pa'l Norte Fest Co-Founder on Bouncing Back After Violence Rocks Monterrey

Hello Seahorse!
Victor Chavez/WireImage

Hello Seahorse! perform on stage during the MTV Millennial Awards 2013 at Foro Corona on July 16, 2013 in Mexico City, Mexico.  

Leave it to a music festival to help provide some sort of safe haven in a metropolitan city like Monterrey, Nuevo León, which in 2008 had been tainted by a wave of violence initiated by drug cartels. The insecurity in the streets left citizens too scared to go out by day, much less by night.

Four years later, when the residents were ready to take their city back, the music festival Pa’l Norte was created to give the regios, what people from Monterrey are called, an event that would allow them to get lost in the sound of music.

"The music scene was growing in the city, having great shows for the first time like: U2, Roger Waters, The Rolling Stones, Coldplay," Pa’l Norte co-founder Oscar Flores tells Billboard exclusively. "Then around 2010 people were afraid to go out, the venues were empty, the nightlife was over.

“After things calmed down, we decided to produce something that brought everyone together and that promoted all the good things that our city and the North of Mexico had to offer like, the food, music, beer, etc. We invited the most influential bands from Latin America. We wanted everyone to have a complete experience about the traditions from Monterrey!“

Now in its fifth edition, some of the biggest Latin acts -- including J Balvin, Caifanes, Natalia Lafourcade, Enrique Bunbury, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs and Hello Seahorse! -- will perform at Parque Fundidora on April 15-16.

"For a band or a musician to be part of a festival like Pa'l Norte means having more exposure to a greater audience since you're performing with other recognized artists ... I personally have so much fun in festivals," Hello Seahorse's lead singer Denise Gutiérrez tells Billboard

International artists to headline Pa’l Norte include Robin SchulzTwo Door Cinema Club and 50 Cent

Starting out with local bands and as a one-day event, there is no doubt that Pa’l Norte has become one of the most important music festivals in Mexico. Last year more than 110,000 people from all over Mexico traveled to Monterrey to be part of the two-day festival. Event attendance is expected to be over 160,000 this year. 

Pa’l Norte joins other successful music festivals in Mexico, including Vive Latino and Corona Capital, which take place in Mexico City.