UPDATED (Monday, 4:30 p.m.): Actually this year's Go Tejano attendance fell short of last year's record by less than 100 people. Still a lot of folks.
Go Tejano Day, feat. Pesado and Banda MS Reliant Stadium March 16, 2014
"Tejano is dead...at least at RodeoHouston".
The above statement is true, but RodeoHouston still managed to sell
a record 75,224 tickets to Sunday's annual Go Tejano Day at Reliant Stadium. And boy, it sure did feel like every one of those ticketholders showed up to see Grupo Pesado and La Banda MS deliver their impassioned sonidos for their adoring fans.
Go Tejano Day traditionally attracts among the largest crowds in the rodeo's season, if not the largest, and at least five previous editions can still be found in the Top 20 all-time attendance days.
Banda music is lively and loud, normally featuring a brilliant horn section, tuba, large bass drum and a few clarinets. The music is both simple in its composition and complex in its delivery -- imagine the amount of practice it takes a normal-sized band to sync up and play as a team. It takes time and patience for sure. Now imagine if your band has 16 members.
That's what we get with La Banda Sinaloense MS de Sergio Lizarraga, or simply Banda MS. The group was formed in 2003 in the Pacific state of Sinaloa, specifically in the city of Mazatlán. Their style of music is called Duranguense, which runs at a faster tempo than traditional banda music, yet still shares roots with Norteño.
They kicked off with the classic "El Sinalonse," which is pretty much the standard banda song that every group learns and perfects. The blaring of the horns, the vocal fortitude of the lyrics, and the bang-bang-banging of the drums instantly elevates heart rates and causes boots to shuffle.
Banda MS did showcase two slower tracks that had the ladies singing along at the top of their lungs, "Mi Olvido" and "Mi Razon de Ser." These songs spotlight the softer side of banda, where the melody is sweet and the love is at times too much to ignore.
In between the two headliners, the finals of the Annual Go Tejano Mariachi Invitational were held on a side stage on the arena floor. These groups compete as random-numbered competitors, so as to avoid any prejudice depending on the name or city of origin. The competition was tough, but the winning group was McAllen's Mariachi Las Mariposas, who triumphed with traditional renditions of "De Que Manera Te Olvido" and "Hermoso Cariño." The runners-up were Dallas' Mariachi Michoacan.
Review continues on the next page.
Pesado has played RodeoHouston twice previously, and Sunday again reminded us why they are one of the best Norteño groups to ever come along. Their accordion riffs are some of the genre's most recognizable, and they consistently perform with the highest degree of respect and honor to the music's history. Sunday, they continued the tradition by paying tribute to both Ramon Ayala and Los Alegres de Teran.
After a long intro, they opened with "Cuando Estas de Buenas," which begins softly and crescendos to a heart-wrenching love letter written in accordion notes. "Cielo Azul, Cielo Nublado," which followed, carries its own classic vocals and notes and enticed the 70,000-plus people in the stadium to sing in unison at the top of their lungs.
The song "Ojala Que Te Mueras (I Hope You Die)" served as an encore, which only shows that the only thing stronger than love is heartbreak. A musician not only will never forget, but they will write a song about it. So think about that next time you abandon us, ladies.
Personal Bias: Turn down pa que?!
The Crowd: Largest crowd of this year's RodeoHouston so far. Lots of beautiful Latinas and dudes in pointy boots.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Remind me again why we've waited almost an hour for these margaritas?!"
Random Notebook Dump: I drove straight from a week of SXSW in Austin to Reliant Stadium. I wouldn't miss Go Tejano Day, even if my beloved Tejano music is nowhere to be found.
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