In its sixteenth year, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival may have reached its apotheosis as the be all end all of the music festival circuit – from its stunning landscape to its stacked line-ups, packed audiences, and outfit one-upmanship, this is a machine so well-oiled that there are even three full-service pop-up restaurants on the grounds. But in the process of becoming the festival mecca, the scene surrounding Coachella has begun to drown out the music itself. As New York Times writer Katie Rogers noted, “It’s so crowded with acts, so accessible online and so commercialized that the music critics of The New York Times decided to sit things out this year.” They weren’t the only music critics who opted not to attend this year.
Luckily, 2016 is a music festival cornucopia, with options for every taste. Even as Latino acts are still few and far between on major bills (this year Coachella featured more than usual: Mint Field, Prayers, Tei Shi, Ibeyi, and Carla Morrison), there are plenty of exciting alternatives flourishing in Latin America – many of which are still critically ignored. And while most eyes were on Coachella’s opening weekend, another festival was taking place five and a half hours south of LA, featuring a who’s who of Latin American talent: Monterrey’s Pa’l Norte.
The two-day music festival, which launched in 2012, began as a way to bring the city’s creative community together in the wake of a wave of cartel violence that temporarily tamped down its music and nightlife scene. Now, in its fifth edition, the festival is a thriving representation of a city that has long served as the breeding ground for some of Mexico’s most important rock bands and musicians.
This year’s line up included big names like reggaetonero of the moment J Balvin, Hello Seahorse!, Denver, Caifanes, Natalia Lafourcade, and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, as well as non-Latino acts like 50 Cent, Naughty by Nature and Two Door Cinema Club, among others. With two day tickets ranging from just $112-170 (as compared to Coachella’s $375 GA ticket), Pa’l Norte offered a weekend of amazing music at a price that’s hard to beat. (Plus the backdrop of Monterrey’s mountains surrounding the city didn’t hurt either).
Relive the festival with the looks we snapped above.