5 Things We Learned at Tecate Pa’l Norte Festival in Monterrey

Lead Photo: Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla.
Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla.
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Rock fans are wrong. There is still a strong presence of rock bands in festival lineups, they’re just all in Mexico. Case in point: Tecate Pa’l Norte, an annual festival in Monterrey, Nuevo León. For its 2023 iteration, the event occurred from March 30 to April 2. For its biggest iteration yet, the festival featured 150 acts across nine stages—most of which were rock and regional Mexican acts, the festival’s brand. 

Night one of Pa’l Norte saw international artists like Billie Eilish, Franz Ferdinand, and 5 Seconds of Summer draw some of the biggest crowds to their main stages. However, the Latin American artists didn’t trail far behind, with Carin León, Villano Antillano, and Wisin y Yandel putting on performances that seemed more like a party than a show. 

On Saturday, Twenty One Pilots (who replaced Blink 182), The 1975, Carla Morrison, and Polima Westcoast were some of the day’s most anticipated artists. But saving the best for last, acts like The Killers, Junior H, Grupo Frontera, and Manuel Turizo brought the house down for the festival’s final day, putting on high-energy performances that festival goers will cherish for years.

From surprise collaborations, like Grupo Frontera and Yahritza y Su Esencia, to surprise performances, like Gloria Gaynor and Smash Mouth, the unexpected was at every turn at Tecate Pa’l Norte. The constant curb balls thrown at the attendees were one of the factors that made this Monterrey festival memorable and exciting—something that U.S. festivals just aren’t anymore. Here are the five things we learned while we were at Tecate Pa’l Norte this year.

Millenials Choose Rock, Gen Z Goes Regional Mexican

The Tecate Pa’l Norte is the answer to people who are sad to see rock bands take the backseat in festival lineups. Every year, this Monterrey event highlights some of the biggest names in rock but also in regional Mexican, which are two big genres with a stronghold in the region. This year, Anglo acts like The Killers, Billie Eilish, and The 1975 were some of the most awaited of the weekend. However, other big headliners were Mexican acts in regional, namely Junior H and Grupo Frontera. While international ensembles tend to draw the biggest crowds, the festival grounds proved to be big enough to host headliners simultaneously, given the difference in audience. 

Music platforms have reported that regional Mexican music is growing among younger gen Z audiences in recent years. But seeing the data reflected in person is a whole different scenario—case in point Junior H’s set. The 23-year-old Mexican artist was up against the behemoth Las Vegas darlings The Killers on Sunday night to close out the festival. However, both act’s crowds didn’t seem to clash—namely because all the millennials and older were at The Killers and all the kids were at Junior H. Same thing happened on Saturday, with the generational divide at Dannylux and Miranda!’s sets. The hardest decision of the weekend was probably deciding between Grupo Frontera and Café Tacvba, but ultimately, the younger crowd veered towards the former. 

Carla Morrison Is Tired Of The Comparisons

Carla Morrison was one of the big stars playing on the second night of the festival. A few hours after her set, the singer gave a press conference where journalists were able to ask her questions. One, in particular, asked her for her thoughts on constantly being compared to singers like Ximena Sariñana and Natalia Lafourcade, which the media have grouped together through the years by saying they all sound alike. Morrison doesn’t agree with this. In response, the “Te Regalo” singer said she doesn’t think her voice is similar to her colleagues, which she also noted are her friends. “I do think we all have super pretty voices, and super special voices,” she said. She even went a step further and said she doesn’t understand the comparisons, especially when male bands like Zoé, Los Bunkers, and Odisseo don’t get the same reactions. “If we really wanted to be cruel, we could even say they’re the same. And they dress the same; they always make the same [music],” she pointed out. “But it’s not about that, and you can say the same about [me and] my colleagues. We all offer something different.” 

To answer the question about whether she’d talked to Sariñana and Lafourcade about doing a collaboration together, she said she had never asked them. “But I’m going to tell the girls. Let’s see if we can come up with something and [the haters] finally se callan el hocico,” she concluded with a loud laugh. 

Villano Antillano Could Be The Next Crossover Artist

When we say that Villana might crossover, we don’t mean into the Anglo world. Instead, we mean into the mainstream Latine audience. With lyrics like, “No soy una chica normal/ Todo’ saben que yo soy una muñeca/ Saco leche con cojone’, normal,” one wouldn’t exactly expect to see heteronormative presenting men at her set. After all, Monterrey isn’t exactly known for its progressive views, especially when it comes to the LGBTQ community. But to see a bunch of dudes, who’ve grown up in a machismo culture rife with prejudice against LGBTG+ communities, jumping up and down and singing “Music Sessions, Vol. 51” was the stuff of the culture wars glitching. Maybe it’s Bizarrap’s involvement, but we are of the mind that Villano Antillano’s talent speaks for itself, and it was about time everyone realized it.  

What Is Making Julieta Venegas Happy These Days?

On Friday, Julieta Venegas was one of the most anticipated acts of the night, given she was finally back on stage performing new music. During her press conference, members of the press asked her very intense questions regarding her song “Caminar Sola,” asking her to expand on the theme of the violence and lack of security women throughout Latin American face, or a then-recent violent incident regarding Ximena Sariñana’s manager, to which she had nothing to do with. Safe to say, the energy was off, so we had a simple question for Venegas: What’s something currently making you happy? “Friendship has truly become something very endearing,” the Tijuanense said. “I was just in Tijuana with very esteemed friends. In Buenos Aires, I’m also making a lot of friends. Friendship has become something I enjoy a lot.” Other things that make the “Limón y Sal” singer happy are literature, listening to music, and spending time with her daughter.

With Pierce The Veil, Representation In Hardcore Rock Matters 

Pierce The Veil chose a few festivals in Mexico to mark their return to music as a band. And through this comeback they’ve been a lot more vocal about their Mexican backgrounds, something that fans always knew but it was never a talking point as it it now in the current state of culture. During their press conference, we asked the guys about representing Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the hardcore/screamo space. 

“I never really knew until I grew up a little bit that representation was huge,” Pierce The Veil’s bassist Jaime Preciado said, as frontman Vic Fuentes nodded in agreement. He explained how growing up, he never found Latine bands he liked. “[Through] my parents, I listened to Vicente Fernandez, Alejandro Fernandez, Selena, Maná, and I just never really felt connected to those bands cause they just weren’t my style at the time. So being able to start a band with these guys and have that, I thought it was super important. Now it’s more important than ever to meet people from Texas, New York, Monterrey, all over the place that connect with us, and that’s super special. If we can bring a little bit of that representation, be like, ‘We’re Hispanic, we play this type of music, and it’s all good,’ that’s special to us.” 

Patient for his turn to speak, Fuentes elaborated on the topic of representation. “When we meet a young fan who says something like that to us, it’s a compliment and it’s an honor. It’s something that feels deeper than what we do, and it feels deeper than our band, even,” he said. “It’s always such a special moment when somebody says that to us and we really appreciate it.” “We don’t take it for granted,” Preciado added.