Ten. That’s the total months fans had waited for the highly-anticipated Bésame Mucho festival, which took place Saturday (Dec. 3) at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium. The Live Nation-produced, one-day event — which sold out in just 12 minutes when the 2000s-inspired lineup was announced in February — as promised showcased the best of the ’90s-’00s Latin pop, rock, banda, norteño, cumbia and merengue acts.
The multigenerational (both in terms of performers and its attendees) event opened its doors at 10 a.m. local time with the first band, Los Cadetes de Linares, kicking it all off at 11:25 a.m. Featuring four stages — Rockero, Las Clásicas, Te Gusta El Pop? and Beso spread across the stadium’s parking lot — fans literally had to sprint across to catch whichever act was on their must-see list.
Some even having to watch an artist for the first 15 minutes to be able to make it to another artist’s set that was on the complete opposite side. The earlier acts, which included Kinky, Raymix, Panteón Rococó Caló and Los Freddy’s, got only around 35-40 minutes. Headliners, which included Juanes, Los Tigres del Norte, Paulina Rubio, Alejandra Guzmán, Bronco, Caifanes, Oro Solido and Elvis Crespo, secured a few more minutes with their sets lasting about 50 minutes to an hour.
Catch up on Bésame Mucho’s seven best moments below.
Short and sweet
Artists acknowledged onstage how short (timewise) their sets were — some embraced the quickness of the process while others wish they would’ve had more time. “Cortito pero seguro (short but you can count on us),” Kinky’s frontman Gil told a sweaty crowd who showed up early for the group’s noon set at the Rockero Stage. Meanwhile, La Oreja de Van Gogh’s lead singer Leire Martínez didn’t seem to want to leave the stage after her time was up. “What a shame that these festivals are like this: everything has to be quick and rushed.”
With four stages featuring back-to-back sets, initially it wasn’t clear how the transitions would work or how efficiently production would be when it came to changing sets. In hopes of helping speed up the process, they set up revolving stages. When one band or act had wrapped up their set, the next artist was already setting up in the back part of the stage. When ready to perform, the stage would revolve and place the new artist in front of the crowd. “Let’s go, vamos,” you’d hear artists like Julieta Venegas rushing the production team to turn the stage.
Pick your fighter
You could tell by the person’s outfit which stage they were heading to. The typical outfit for Las Clasicas Stage, where mostly all regional Mexican acts performed, included the cowboy hat and the pointy boots. If you were mainly there for pop artists, you were wearing a pop of color, 2000s fashion such as overalls, berets, a polo with the popped collar for men, and sparkly blazers. Those two stages out of the four were most represented in terms of fashion.
Primer Fest Sin Marciano
Hands down the most emotional moment at the festival was when Los Enanitos Verdes took the Rockero Stage. Marking the Argentine band’s first live performance since the untimely passing of their frontman, Marciano Cantero, they dedicated their performance to their member who “left us too soon,” Enanitos’ Felipe Staiti, who took on the role of frontman for the first few songs such as “La Muralla Verde,” told the crowd. “We’re here. Hurt but alive.”
For the second half portion of the set, Staiti welcomed special surprise guests who joined them onstage to help them sing the rest of the songs. The first guest was Hombres G’s lead singer David Summers who sang “Mi Primer Día Sin Ti” and “Lamento Boliviano.” At the end of his performance, he blew a kiss to the sky and said “Marciano, I love you.”
Then, Café Tacvba’s Ruben Albarran joined the band to sing “Por El Resto.” Following his performance, Albarran said: “We’re honoring Marciano. Sending him all the joy of this festival to wherever he’s at right now.” For the last guest, Staiti introduced Sin Bandera’s Noel Schajris to sing “Luz De Día.”
Staiti ended the set with a special message and a special song. “I was 16 years old when we started this band. I want to dedicate this performance to Marciano and the time we spent together. You all, the fans, are the reason we kept recording songs. I want to honor Marciano’s memory with this song.” And he went on to sing “Mariposas.”
Battle of the bands
The Rockero and Las Clasicas stage were closer to each other. While the Te Gusta El Pop? and Beso Stages were nearby. So, sometimes, you’d hear the other artist’s music cross-pollinate with another artists set. Most times, fans and artists were cool with that. For example, right before Enanitos Verdes hit the stage, fans patiently waited while singing along to Ramon Ayala’s “Tragos Amargos” anthem. At other times, it got a bit awkward. Such was the case when Sin Bandera was about to wrap their set, Oro Solido kicked off their own blasting merengue across the stadium. “The pachanga (party) started next to us. Can you lower down the volume?” the duo’s Noel Schajris asked jokingly.
Perhaps in every stage there were technical difficulties with the sound. Safe to say that all artists dealt with some sort issue and at times complained to production while onstage and in front of all their fans. From microphones not working for half of the song to the sound being off or distorted, not everything was perfect at the festival. But, to its credit, it was their first year and they were ambitious. It could have been worse.
OG regional Mexican
Mexican music is going through a renaissance with a new generation of mostly Mexican-American teen kids leading the new era without having to stick to the traditional instruments and outfits, and core sound of the legacy genre. But today at Bésame Mucho, norteño and banda fans showed up for the artists that made them fall with the genre initially. From Banda Machos to Ramon Ayala, Banda El Recodo and Los Tigres del Norte, all artists wore their traditional vaquero outfits and played the OG regional Mexican anthems that opened doors for the new generation of Gen Z artists that are taking the genre to the next level.