As one would expect of the capital of Mexico, the city is the country’s centre for all things economic, industrial, and cultural; Mexico City is the focal point for culture in Central America.
So by no means should it comes as a surprise that the city is home to a diverse and impressive music scene, which has has undergone a transformation since globalisation and the internet swept the country.
While in the 90s the alternative scene was made up of bands that stuck to their Spanish singing roots and love of traditional Mexican music, the internet has radically changed attitudes and thus the music coming out of Mexico City.
Now a huge variety of genres are represented in the urban sprawl where indie bands take their influences from right around the world as local acts now have an even greater chance to take their music overseas.
In the late 60s Mexico City became obsessed with rock music, thanks to the success of Carlos Santana in the United States, bands came from nowhere attempting to capitalise on the musician’s fame.
But today the music culture of Mexico City is incredibly eclectic and surreal. With strong punk, rock, and indie scenes, bands across the city have taken their newfound appreciation for international music and infused it with the traditional aspects that their music scene was once limited to.
The city is also famed for its classical music, with numerous orchestras contributing to a proverbial mecca of traditional culture.
For those looking for a more boisterous night out, the nightlife in Mexico City has a slather of options. With jazz clubs, rock venues, loud all-night discos, Mariachi music, Flamenco, Cuban, and salsa clubs all scattered across the city, your night in the Central American metropolis has the ability to be a time of contrasts.
Starting late, many clubs and bars don’t open until 10pm with an early morning finish awaiting partygoers.
While the press coming from Mexico City is rarely positive, the city’s music scene continues to bubble beneath the surface of international headlines as the its music slowly seeps across international waters. Mexican music has always been an interesting mix of indigenous and European, but now the fusion of styles increasingly encompasses more and more musical territories.
This has resulted in the musicians of Mexico City crafting music within a vibrant scene that is both quality and experimental.
Thus, those thinking that Mexican music has more to do with eating burritos and shaking their maracas should be pleasantly surprised to find that Mexico City’s music scene is incredibly unique and yes, you should probably book your flights ASAP.
Mexico City Festivals/Conferences
Corona Capital; http://www.coronacapital.com.mx/
First held in 2010, this festival has quickly become one of the country’s biggest music events. With local and international headliners, the festival runs over two days in October. Corona Capital is held at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, a racetrack in Mexico City. The lineup has grown considerably each year, with 2012 seeing The Hives, Franz Ferdinand, The Black Keys, My Morning Jacket, and Florence + The Machine included in the festival’s monstrously sized bill.
Vive Latino; http://www.vivelatino.com.mx/
Over three days this annual rock music festival features an incredible variety of Latin and Spanish acts as well as international bands. It is one of the most important Spanish music festivals in the world. While past lineups have included only a few big name international headliners, the 2013 event has gone all out, securing the likes of Blur, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Morrissey, and Tame Impala just to name a few.
Festival De Mexico; http://www.festival.org.mx/
This 18 day event held in mid-March is scattered across 60 different venues in the city with acts from around the globe taking part. While dance, theatre, and opera shows are also held, much of the festival takes place in the downtown Historic Centre. Over 275,000 people attend around 280 events. The festival is divided into four sectors, Aural (space exploration sound), Radical Mestizo (music that feeds on different ethnic traditions high cultural), Animasivo (contemporary animation forum) and Global Cinema (films of various latitudes).
Mexico City Record Stores
Retroactive Records, Jalapa 125, Col. Roma Norte http://www.myspace.com/retroactivorecords
Since December 2004, this record store has boasted over 35,000 titles and stuck to its ‘vinyl only’ promise. Retroactive Records has increasingly become an important player in Mexico City’s music scene and in 2009 the store set up a pressing plant. While they have pressed LPs for mainstream labels, the establishment more impressively has also done the same for independent labels and invested in the store’s own ‘Retroactive Reissues’, as well teaming up with Mexican artists for various projects.
Discoteca, Zacatecas 43 col. Roma http://www.discotecaonline.net/web/
This independent record store specialises in various music related products; selling vinyl, CDs, collectables, literature, magazines and turntables just to name a few. But Discoteca’s presence in the city’s music scene isn’t just limited to its store. They also host a radio show on Ibero 90.9, put on music workshops, and keep an active news blog to keep in touch with all involved in the music culture of Mexico City.
La Roma Records, Álvaro Obregón 200 bis 1 http://www.laromarecords.com/
Locals come here to buy, trade, and sell new or used vinyl and CDs. This store is one of the few places in Mexico City that allows a trading option. La Roma is also the place to buy and sell turntables and mixers. The shop stocks a quality range of headphones and turntables, while its range of vinyl is kept up to date with some of the best new LP releases from around the world.
Mexico City Bars
Bulldog Cafe, Rubens 6, at Av. Revolución, Col. Mixcoac http://www.bulldogcafe.com/
With a sister venue in Cancun, this establishment books mostly rock acts from around Mexico as well international headliners. While bands usually play between 1.00am-2.30am in the morning, the venue keeps providing music until 4am. There are three floors inside Bulldog Cafe, all of which look down onto the main dance floor. While it’s more of a nightclub than a bar, this venue has hosted the likes of Guns N Roses, Poison, and Radiohead amongst others.
Multiforo Alicia, Av Cuauhtémoc 91 http://www.myspace.com/foroalicia
From the outside, this live music haven is decorated in a sea of graffiti, a fact which should prepare punters for the underground atmosphere that awaits them. Hailed as one of the city’s premiere rock clubs, the aesthetics of Multiforo Alicia might seem a little less than luxurious but this venue hosts local and international bands of the punk, ska, surf, and garage variety. It provides live music revellers with a chance to experience the city’s rock music scene.
Centro Cultural de España, República de Guatemala 18 www.ccemx.org
While by day this venue hosts everything from art exhibits to plays, the buildings roof terrace by night is the place to catch DJs and live music that ranges from indie to electronic and rock. The building has been rebuilt with a colonial structure since its 16th century days where it hosted conquistadors. The venue, which is open from Wednesday to Saturday between 10pm-2am, is also a restaurant. This establishment is filled with young hipsters who love live music.
Mexico City Acts You Should Check Out
Dedo Caracol – Soundcloud
With a band name that translates to ‘Finger Snail’ in English, this four-piece claim to play honest rock ‘n’ roll. With influences such as Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, and Sigur Ros, Dedo Caracol are slightly progressive, while elements of folk can also be heard. The band played SXSW this year, while their last LP, Homónimo, was released in 2011.
I Can Chase Dragons! – Soundcloud
This act is the solo project of Julio Gudiño, the lead singer of The Plastics Revolution and unlike the indie pop of that band, I Can Chase Dragons! is far more experimental. The electronic dream pop soundscapes of Gudiño’s solo work was released in the form of a debut album in 2012. Entitled Expansion, the singer promoted the album worldwide. You can sample ‘Republique’ below.
Líber Terán – Soundcloud
A Former member of Los de Abajo, the Latin ska four-piece released two albums under David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label and toured internationally. Líber Terán has since gone solo with an alternative brand of folk rock. His music explores classic rock and folk influences with a Mexican twist, listen to his song Tentación below.