Rock in Mexico

MÉXICO CITY -- Near the end of the three days of music of Vive Latino 2010, Calle 13 got on the main stage, before the delirium of 50,000 followers. At the start of the vibrant spectacle, vocalist René let his opposition to Arizona's new anti-immigration law, which he classified as racist, be known, then dedicated the songs to the immigrants.

The rest was pure rhythm, dance and happiness to the maximum.

This is how the 11th edition of Vive Latino was lived, an annual event that is celebrated at México City's Foro Sol, and a destination for artists from all latitudes -- like México, Colombia, Argentina, Spain, the U.S., Chile, and, this year, for the first time a band from Guatemala. In total, there were nearly 80 bands and solo artists.

Among the more distinguished performers from this year were Ely Guerra, Los Tres, Julieta Venegas, Panteón Rococó, Calle 13, Rodrigo & Gabriela, Aterciopelados, and Los Auténticos Decadentes. Ozomatli, Monte Negro and Calexico represented the U.S.

"We had a great time. We wanted to see Julieta Venegas but because we're here (at the press conference), we didn't make it, at least we're listening to her," said Álvaro Henríquez, lead singer of the legendary Chilean rock band Los Tres, while in the background Venegas' presentation could be heard.

Los Ángeles' Monte Negro stood out with its bilingual songs and intense rhythms, bringing a new dimension in Latin rock.

When asked a question regarding anti-immigrant racism in the U.S., the band members said that that they, as people, are not indifferent to social problems. "But that it has to be recognized that the Mexican authorities do not treat Central Americans, who come to México, whether it be looking for work or to reach the U.S., kindly."

Aside from the well known bands and artists, other less known performers also took part in the event. Also, many of them possess great artistic merits. This is the case with México's Veo Muertos, who in their country count on many followers and are very critical of the social reality, Latin rock phenomenon from Tierra del Fugeo to Rio Bravo.

"We also criticize bad rock bands," said the Veo Muertos lead singer after their presentation, referring to complacent, commercialized musicians.

Veo Muertos play a hybrid style of rock which includes female singers as part of the spectacle, irreverent and intentionally chaotic.

In a similar tone, the band Le Butcherettes (the female butchers), put on a show with themes directed towards raising awareness about violence against women. They held nothing back: representing violence and seminude females with the intention of valuing the control of one's body, on the part of women, against the abuse of women by men.

Of course the big names didn't disappoint.

Julieta Venegas put on a simple, moderate concert but full of emotion and of exquisite quality, for the pleasure of her fans. Due to her pregnancy -- it's promised that her son will be born in August -- Venegas temporarily left the accordion and now, solely, plays guitar.

For many the presentation by Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, who reside in Ireland, was a revelation. Already accomplished in Europe, they are little known in their homeland. Their show, however, is an explosion of guitar-based rhythm, executed with incredible mastery and versatility. The audience followed them with astonishment and applauded with much gusto, and it's not for nothing, Rodrigo y Gabriela transmit a freshness, flavor and rhythm that, not often, can be seen and heard emanating from only two acoustic guitars, with no tricks nor exotic techniques.

The Colombian, Aterciopelados, also surprised with its indigenous and hybrid (modern) tones, presented with exceptional delivery and feeling. The audience, grateful, applauded till their hands burned. Other bands that surprised were Tijuana No, Ely Guerra -- sensual interpretations of ballads and soft rock -- Deftones, and Víctimas del Doctor Cerebro.

Spanish bands Mago de Oz and Ska P pleased their fans regardless of their musical poverty, as if rock had never reached Spain.