Los Ángeles Azules: from Iztapalapa to Coachella
by Cindi Corrales
A couple of days into the year the long awaited lineup for Coachella 2018 went live. After years of squinting through tiny font trying to find one latinx act in the sea of artist, Coachella reached a total of 15 latinx acts. Among those acts is a band that most 20 somethings probably don’t think about outside of their cousins quinceañera playlist: Los Ángeles Azules.
Los Ángeles Azules is not an up and coming band, climbing up from the microscopic font on the Coachella lineup instead the band spans decades of music, making it the twelfth of over fifty bands listed on the festival’s opening day. For many latinx young adults, it feels as if the band has been around for as long as we can remember considering the band was officially formed in 1983. Los Hermanos Mejía Avante who founded the group started developing their music skills in a student band. Soon after with the support of their parents, who took out loans, even pawning off some of their properties, and whatever little change they made from miscellaneous jobs, the brothers bought their first pieces of equipment. With this equipment the band started making a name for themselves. The associate of the bands music playing at every quinceañera growing up is no surprise because it isn’t too far from the truth, when the band was starting off they played everything from baptisms to weddings. Decades of experimenting with sound and more family members joining the group took them from wedding singers to one of the most popular cumbia bands in Latin music.
The band started making a name for themselves in cumbia after recording their first eps and getting some radio play on what was, at the time, the most popular tropical music station in Mexico City. Their blend of South American cumbia and ballads influenced generations of musicians. That influence was not felt at the time, because only a few years later between 1991-1993 the band risked disappearing into the musical ether as Mexico saw the rise in popularity for quebradita and salsa. Despite the risks, the band remained loyal to cumbia. Their commitment to the brand would pay off in the mid 90s with the release of the band’s first CD, which had them in high demand for variety shows, at the top of the charts on numerous radio stations, and led the group to several awards. The band's popularity did not come without consequences, however. The band's then vocalist left the group to start a project that would become one of Los Angeles Azules first direct competitors when it came to style. Not letting it affect them, in 1996 the band released what would become one of their most popular singles “Como te Voy a Olvidar” featuring their new vocalists. The song would remain the groups most successful single for many years. For decades bands would try recreate the sound created by Los Angeles Azules but the band could not be imitated leading to their long spanning career.
Los Angeles Azules is not the first band one would consider for a festival like Coachella but upon considering their style and history, the band suits the festival’s audience. Their party ambiance, danceable rhythms, and romantic melodies embody a hot desert day. With the festival providing a stage for newer latinx musicians like Kali Uchis, Helado Negro, and The Marías we must take a moment to remember our roots and honor our greats. So as you sway in the hot desert breeze suelta El Listón de tu Pelo and drown yourself in the sounds of your youth.
The first weekend of Coachella takes place over April 13 and April 15 and the second weekend takes place between April 20 and April 22. For ticket prizes and more information visit https://www.coachella.com