I spent my college days in Mexico. Weird, because I went to grade school and high school in the USA but I decided to go to college in Monterrey, Mexico. It was wonderful. It is a city that still had the small town feel but was actually the industry capital of Latin America and probably can be compared to Boston when it comes to universities and schools. All of that being said, College time was a cool time for me in the city of Monterrey but nothing can compare to what is going now in that city and a large part of that is thanks to a music and arts promotion company named NRMAL.
Video: NRMAL FEST 2013 TEASER
NRMAL is putting together its third annual NRMAL FEST on March 6-10, 2013 in the city of Monterrey, Mex. It is an international showcase of music and art that is top notch. The show takes place in a wide open field. There a 2 or 3 music stages as well as carnival rides, art projects showcased, bumper cars and even a half pipe for skaters and bikers. The large music festival itself will be held on March 9 but there are showcases, after parties and shows in many parts of the city throughout March 6-10.
A large part of the American bands playing the festival are curated by NYC famed music promoter Todd Patrick. Todd has an amazing venue in the hipster capital of the world (Brooklyn) called 285 Kent. Todd hooked up with the Nrmal crew a few years back when he was trying to throw MTY MX festival. The show went on despite some horrible narco violence ridden days prior to the show. The show had some speed bumps and Todd later team with Nrmal to provide a more dynamic and successful festival. The Nrmal Fest also happens to coincide time wise with famed Austin, Texas festival SWSX. So much talent floating around the region within the same time made it easier to book better bands for Monterrey.
Video: Festival Nrmal live
Monterrey was always one of the safest cities in Latin America but ongoing violence disputes between rival drug lords have plagued the city within the last two years. Despite that, Nrmal and Todd P continue to do great work with this festival. The truth of the matter is that in Monterrey (or any other place where there are gangs and violence) the common concert goer or tourist is quite unlikely to be harmed. These are drug wars between drug gangs. Unless you are a drug dealer it is pretty much unheard of to be harmed by these gangs. If anything, this festival proves that society has grown tired of these gangs and will not stop living their lives to the fullest by limiting their social activities or interests because of dumb thugs. So, bravo Nrmal for putting this show together and giving the middle finger to dumb thugs and corrupt governments that do nothing about them.
There are so many bands playing that I won't go into detail about all of them. There are some stand outs and plenty of Baja California talent on the bill. Maniqui Lazer from Mexicali has made a recent comeback after front man Jung had taken a hiatus and played in So Cal based All Leather. Arguably the best showman in Mexico, Tijuana's own Maria y Jose will be on the bill. Garage punkers and fire starters San Pedro el Cortez, Tijuana ruidoson maker Santos and Mexicali's Siete Catorce are also booked for the fest.
This is in my opinion the most well curated and honest music festival in Mexico. Music fests are hard to do, they take lots of money and it's easy to sell out to corporate sponsors making your festival look like a joke. This festival is hardly that. Both organizers and talent are a example of how to do things right in the world of Indie music. So if you can make the trip. If you are in Austin for SWSX don't be a scary cat and give Mexico a chance. This festival is well worth it.