Los Tigres Del Norte
Los Tigres del Norte, known as the godfathers of Norteño, performed live at the Del Mar fairgrounds on June 14, 2015. Musica Norteño is a genre of music which incorporates the accordion, bajo sexto, drum and bass guitar, to play the polka influenced rhythms. The “corridos” or “poetic ballads of the oppressions experienced by the common people,” are then fused with the instrumentals, to create the unique style of music.
The brothers and cousins were lead by the eldest, Jorge Hernandez, who plays the accordion and is the lead singer of the quintet. Jorge started the songs with his Hohner accordion, which was symbolic to many of the fans present that know the band’s history; particularly the brothers’ trek across the Mexico and USA border in 1968, where the immigration officer referred to the Hernandez kids, as small tigers. Jorge, the eldest of the group, only being 14 years old at the time, lead his fellow cubs to San Jose, Ca., to start a new life. The “Norte” part of their name was partially based on their plight north from Sinaloa, Mexico, and also could be referenced to their genre of music.
The band opened up the set with their soundtrack hit for the 1978 movie, “La Banda Del Carro Rojo”, which is a narco-corrido (drug ballad) classic about two brothers who smuggled cocaine into the USA with their “Red Car”. From an outsider looking in, one might think that the machine gun sound effects and realistic storylines might be too graphic … but the jovial meld of instruments combined with the lyrics, are known to stimulate the fan’s sensories, as the music was originally meant to be danced to.
The concert was at the main pavilion overlooking the racetrack, which was directly behind the beer garden. This strategic placement was perfect for the concert, and if anyone has ever partied across the border at a Norteño party, the alcohol must flow until dawn, like when Los Tigres performed in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, for 12 hours straight.
Most of the songs performed this night were about love and broken hearts. La Puerta Negra, Golpes en el Corazon, Rosita de Olivo, Ni Parientes Somos; are all ballads about the sad realisms that all cultures endure. If one is not fluent in Español, one might misinterpret the upbeat melodies also known as “Conjuntos,” to be feel-good music.
“De América, Yo Soy” was the last song performed, when Jorge introduced the rest of the band, including: Hernán Hernández, Eduardo Hernández, Luis Hernández and Óscar Lara. The song was created in reference to “being born in the Americas,” whether it be North, Central or South America. The hook of the song revolves around the question on “why Americans and Latinos / Latinas, are separated by names,” when as a whole, from Canada all the way down to Argentina, “we should all be called Americans”.
The interactions between Los Tigres and the fans were the highlights of the concert, with Jorge giving the fans a say on the next song to be performed. After their finale, the restless audience yelled “otro, otro, otro,” requesting “one more (song).”
Author: Mike Madriaga
Photography: Mike Madriaga / Bianca Madriaga