Britpop and Cumbia Coexist at Mexico City Music Festival

PHOTO: Cumbia group Los Angeles Azules perform at Mexico Citys Vive Latino festival on March 16, 2013.
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"Cheesy," was the word one 22 year-old Mexico City music fan used when asked to describe Los Angeles Azules.  What was a traditional cumbia band doing at an alternative music festival anyway? That was the question on many people's minds as Los Angeles Azules took to Vive Latino's Union Indio stage on Saturday night.  And it was the question asked by critics who took to Twitter and the rest of social media in protest.

"Our family was really worried about us because they said people were going to throw beer at us, they were going to hit us," said one of the three Mejía Avante brothers after the show. The three Mejía Avante brothers -- Elías, Hilario and Alfredo -- founded the group in 1976.

Instead, the social media push may be why Los Angeles Azules were greeted by one of the largest, most enthusiastic crowds seen at the festival's second stage. Thousands pushed their way through the stage's gates to join fans who were already dancing and singing along, many of whom have grown up listening to the classic act from Iztapalapa, one of the largest and poorest areas on the outskirts of Mexico City.

"I am mainly here to see Blur, but they are special because they're Mexican, they are from here and people like them.  It's what Mexican people listen to," said Adriana Dominguez, a student from Estado de Mexico.

Luis Alberto, a 26 year-old salesman from Mexico City called it a tribute, the culmination of a long, successful career.

"Sure Vive Latino is a rock festival," he said, "but I feel like Los Angeles Azules are here because of their history not just in Mexico or even Latin America, but the whole world.  They've been around for 40 or 50 years and that's why they are here."

Los Angeles Azules said they appreciated the support and they especially thanked the festival's producers and other, younger musicians who joined them onstage, like Camilo Lara from the Mexican Institute of Sound and members of the Mexican band Centavrvs.

"We saw that this wasn't really our element. We are used to a different type of people, the general public, people who like cumbia.  But the organizers said, no, that all young people, all social classes love cumbia."

And as last night's concert showed, they were right. In fact, the love for Los Angeles Azules is so strong by rock and alternative artists, that a tribute album to the band will be released in the coming weeks, featuring acts such as Saul Hernandez (Caifanes), Carla Morrison, Kinky, and Jay de la Cueva (Moderatto).

For a taste of the Los Angeles Azules scene, check out our video of their performance, playing "Cumbia del Infinito" with special guests Camilo Lara and Centavrvs.

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