Mexico’s Vive Latino music festival wrapped up three days of music March 15 with an eclectic lineup of more than 100 acts that ran the gamut of mainstream rock (Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters, Dave Matthews Band, Brandon Flowers), major Mexican and Latin rock bands (Caifanes, Molotov, Babasónicos), and even alt and electronica (Aterciopelados, Bomba Stereo, Nortec Collective).
In its 16th year, the fest — which is recognized as the biggest and most important rock and alt fest for Latin acts — also opened the doors to diversity by mixing styles and genres. In years past, for example, Vive Latino has hosted regional Mexican acts like Los Tigres del Norte. This time, it featured maverick veteran banda singer Paquita la del Barrio — known for her feminist and hugely popular man-bashing songs (the title of a track like “Three-Legged Rat” says it all)–performing with Mexican rockers Genitallica.
An average of 60,000 showed up each day to Mexico City’s Foro Sol for the fest, which kicked off Friday, March 13.
Music mingled more with politics than in previous years, with multiple acts calling for a moment of remembrance for the 43 students from the Mexican state of Ayotzinapa who disappeared last September. The government has said they were kidnapped by local police and sold to criminal gangs who killed them and disposed of their remains. Many dispute this version of events.
“Silence is very powerful and we’ll demonstrate that tonight,” said Saul Hernandez, singer for respected Mexican rock band Caifanes on Friday night. “For our brothers, for us, for innocents and for justice!” he added. Other groups like Enjambre and Cuca also voiced their solidarity and outrage with the 43, with the latter showing pictures of all 43 students on the screen behind them, followed by a photo of Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto with peso signs on his face.
Beyond the politics, though, Vive Latino once again was testament of the viability of Latin rock and alternative as genres with huge followings and traction both in Mexico and Latin America. The viability of the region as home to major festivals, of course, continues to be proven with a steady addition of them–particularly rock and electronica fests–which have proliferated in the past several years.
But Vive Latino continues to be ground zero for the genre and the place where many new acts test the waters, and where veteran acts like to reconnect.
Sunday’s night performance included sets by Mexican veterans Molotov and also by Garbage, performing for the first time in the fest and for the first time in Mexico after two years.
The group played a 50-minute set, during which singer Shirley Manson apologized for not speaking better Spanish. But she was able to muster important parting words: “Viva Mexico!” she shouted.
The Dave Matthews Band closed the fest on Sunday night.