Photo: Thalia Gochez
La Doña's 'Can’t Eat Clout' Celebrates Her Upbringing And "A Moment Of Reckoning"
On her new EP, 'Can't Eat Clout,' Bay Area singer/songwriter La Doña spins a multi-genre tale of industry angst and, eventually, arrival.
La Doña's latest release is a tale of perseverance — its story born from the hard-won successes and significant roadblocks familiar to many independent artists.
Can't Eat Clout — a four track, mutli-genre tale of resilience sung and rapped mostly in Spanish — follows a protagonist named Paloma who battles doubt, loss and expectations. While songs like "Paloma No Vuelve Amar" are, on the surface, about love, the EP's central message is the importance of standing in your truth.
Developed in the aftermath of a "really bad industry breakup," Can't Eat Clout is La Doña’s aural manifesto. The album is framed by a feminist lens, unabashedly pointing allegorical fingers without losing relation to the dancefloor.
"I was going in a different direction than a lot of people had expected me to do after my first EP," the San Francisco-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist tells GRAMMY.com. "Can't Eat Clout is a reflection on my issues with the music industry and how it can be really exploitative. It can be really obfuscating of artists' true interests and desires."
Born Cecilia Peña-Govea, La Doña's truest interests and desires are rooted in her community. The child of activists and musicians, La Doña began playing trumpet with her father's conjunto at age seven. Her love of music and understanding of the way it shapes identity was deepened by the Bay Area's myriad and intersecting sounds.
Following her 2020 EP Algo Nuevo, which was released just in time for California's COVID-19 lockdown, La Doña was determined to create the sound she loved to hear: something big, representative of her community, and truth-telling. Crucially, Can't Eat Clout was released on an independent record label and La Doña was highly involved in its production.
La Doña's statement of truth has certainly caught on. She recently performed at Outside Lands — one of San Francisco's biggest festivals, a highlight for the Bay Area native. Plus, President Obama included her 2022 single "Penas Con Pan" on his 2023 summer playlist.
That the former president would appreciate her dembow ode to magic mushrooms might be something of a surprise; that audiences would appreciate her aurally adventurous EP is not. In a short, seductively powerful package, Can't Eat Clout mixes salsa, corrido and hip-hop influences — La Doña even throws in a bit of doo-wop for good measure.
"This story that's autobiographical for me, it really does have different points. I felt that those would be best captured by having very sonically distinct moments," she notes.
La Doña acts as her own manager and musical director, in addition to being a teaching fellow. On what may be a rare break, she spoke with GRAMMY.com about the intersection of music and identity, and how Can't Eat Clout came to be.
I know that activism is important to you personally, and you explore it through your art. Can you explain the origins of that intersection?
I come from a big family of community organizers. My tía was one of the lead organizers on the UFW. All of the family was involved in the Farm Workers Movement, and later in the Central American Solidarity Movement up here in the Bay.
Music was always heavily intertwined with organizing work and any type of mobilization. In the Farm Workers Union, they would always start their meetings with "De Colores" and close with "De Colores" and have music. My father and the rest of his family was instrumental, no pun intended, in creating that soundtrack and having that musical presence.
He was always on the front line and always part of those demonstrations, and part of those calls to action presenting Chicano music or movement music. My mom's background was more in the folk revival movement, but caring a lot about roots music and the histories and union music too.
My sister and I were raised to hold that responsibility and that duty in knowing that music is fun for us and for our friends and family, but it's also a tool for connecting people and for bringing love and connectivity to places that are very heavy, and that can be extremely exhausting for participants and for organizers.
I've always known that to be my role. I feel like it does carry over into my project with La Doña.
Does Can't Eat Clout follow that thread in any way?
[The music industry] can be really manipulative – capitalism is shaping who people are supporting and how they're able to show up for artists, and just the pressures that we face to put out certain messaging or imagery.
The whole EP is kind of an exploration or a snapshot of the story of me just saying, F—that. I'm going to do what I want to do, and it's going to look this way. If you're with it, you're with it, and if you're not, then that's okay.
This EP was a community effort of childhood friends, family, and local musicians. Why was having that collaborative process and that big live band so important?
I think what I've just been clawing my way closer and closer to is how I started playing music, which is in a big band and in that live performance setting. We did live sessions to accompany three out of four of the tracks, and that was with a 13-piece band that I arranged and composed for, and directed and led.
I never would have been able to convince a major label to pay for a band like that. I never would've been able to lean on another musical director to put together a band of mostly femme, mostly queer, mostly BIPOC artists and musicians.
Hearing huge bands and growing up playing in my father's salsa bad, Los Compas, that's always just been the goal. That's always been what I think sounds best, what I think crowds respond to the most. To be able to put such a big group together, it's always been my intention.
The separation from the artist and all the different components of their artistry is really dangerous and really capitalistic, and I don't like it. I think that having a bigger collective experience on stage facilitates just a more cohesive connection to the audience and to the community.
How did this EP come together sonically? You have a few songs that are really cohesive, and then there's one that's in a very different tradition.
There are so many different cultural elements that are going into what we know as Chicanidad.
Somebody that didn't share any of my cultural background might listen to the EP and be like, She has hip-hop and now she has a flamenco intro and now she has a doo-wop, what is going on? But for those of us who grew up with all of these different musics, it feels just like any Sunday in the hood, you're going to hear all of these different types of music and they all capture different moments in the story that I'm telling.
I'm going to be releasing a libretto that is the narrative of the entire EP, the story of Paloma: how she is interacting with the music industry, how she's interacting with her lover and this heartbreak, how she's returning home, how she's interacting with a burning world in a rapidly gentrifying city.
This story is autobiographical for me; it really does have different points. I felt that those would be best captured by having very sonically distinct moments.
I'd love to know a bit more about your writing process. The songs on the EP have such beautiful metaphors, and that seems to be a throughline through your work.
My storytelling is really informed by corridos and from the music that I grew up listening to. The corrido is the style of music that's coming out of the borderlands, and out of northern Mexico, in the mid 1800s to late 1800s. It started as a way to tell war stories of the revolution, what was going on, what battle happened, where, who were the heroes.
I picked up a lot of metaphors and metaphorical language and symbolism from listening to rancheras and corridos, and then also just writers like Rubén Blades telling stories and using different musical inserts to set the stage and to be evocative of different countries and different personajes. Just using that sonic material as well as the rhythmic and instrumental material to build out just a huge story in a three-minute song.
To back it up a little bit, is there a song on this EP that you're most proud of?
The title track is a song that I wrote when I was in a really bad industry breakup. I had parted ways with management and with my distributor because I was going in a different direction than a lot of people had expected me to do after my first EP.
It was a moment of reckoning for me because I was like, People think what I'm doing isn't marketable, and so it's going to be difficult for me to find support and do I want to do this? The answer was definitely; I started this because I have a unique message and a unique sound, and because no one else was going to do it. I had this impetus to create what I wanted to create.
I think that "Can't Eat Clout," really epitomizes that whole journey for me because it started out over a pretty basic reggaeton beat that a friend had sent me and just vocals. I started adding horn lines and I started adding percussion, and then I started adding group coros, and then I started adding some rap. The only thing that's the same [from my original idea] is the lyrics, the melody and the story that I'm telling. The style now is like salsa dura, it has a montuno, it has a piano, it has a full percussion section. It's completely live.
Are most of the songs put together in a similar fashion where you would have an idea and then somebody else would bring something in and then you'd work like that, or was it a little bit more of a streamlined process?
Every single song is different. I wrote "Paloma" in the studio in one day with my producer Tano Brock. I had the melody and the story that I already wanted to tell.
There's songs like "Loser Girl," which I was like, I'm pissed about this and I'm going to write this diss track, and it just came out as a doo-wop. I was singing all of the parts.
Every song calls for different [elements]; they're all different recipes. You're never going to start with the same elements or even at the same process as other recipes.
Do you have any thoughts on regional Mexican music becoming something a bit bigger and broader, and available to an audience that isn't Latino?
Mexican music has always been super popular. Latinos are one of the biggest demographics in the United States. I think it's mostly about capitalism where people are able to identify that market, whereas before there was a lot of fear around it. It has been selling and it has been supporting entire generations of people who are living outside of their homes or who are living across the border.
I think that regional Mexican music has always been popping. It has always been really widely consumed as I used to work at Pandora Radio as a Latin music analyst, and that was one of the highest spinning radio stations. It doesn't come as a surprise to me, but it is really beautiful to see that more people are having the opportunity to express themselves in that genre.
I'm a teacher, so one of my biggest sources of pride is seeing how these young kids are growing up. They're using gender inclusive languages, they're able to talk about their sexual identities and being bi or being pan, being trans. To see them so brave and so just aware of all of these intricacies of life and of identity, I think it's just where we're going as a people, I feel really proud and excited to follow their example.
How does feminism and queer identity play a part within your own music?
It's all about taking up that space and saying like, no, I am doing corridos, I am doing banda, I am doing salsa — I hold those practices very dear, and I studied the roots of them, and I am deeply interested in how they have existed — but it's time for a changeover; to be telling stories that are more inclusive and appropriate for queer, brown, femme audiences. Because, at the end of the day, we're the culture keepers and culture creators.
I think that it's about time that we have art that isn't violent towards us, and that is exciting and inspiring for us to tell our stories in ways that are non co-optive.
As a lover of hip-hop and hyphy music, just so much of music is inherently violent towards women and gay people and queer people, and all of us who are falling outside of this very stiff hetero identity. It's super alienating. We need to push further.
Since you brought up hyphy, how has the Bay influenced your sound?
I feel blessed to be from the Bay Area because it's just a node of so many different cultural practices. It's the foundation of my interests and of my writing and of my theoretical practice.
I would say that the Bay Area is very diverse and it also kind of breaks away from this monolithic Chicano culture where it's only lowrider oldies or only salsa. In the Bay Area there's such a diversity of Latinos and of all types of people. Growing up with that and studying those musics before I even really understood what my ethnic background was, it lends to my desire and my ability to continue to connect across genres, and to bring all types of people and influences into my music.
I would say that two really big loves of my life are hip-hop music and reggaeton, and those are both music that don't come from Mexico, they don't come from California. They're just musics that I found from being in public school with my compañeros, with the rest of the homies, and I think that that kind of access was life-altering.
This has been a huge summer for you in a multitude of ways. What was it like to play Outside Lands?
It was honestly one of the best days of my life, and I'm not like that.
I'm my manager, I'm my tour manager, I am my music director. I do everything for the project, so I never really have time to be like, This is fun. Oh my God, cute. I'm busy, busy, busy, but Outside Lands was just such a spectacular experience. To have all of my family, all of my homegirls there who worked on the visuals, my outfits…pretty much everybody that I love had a piece in making the show what it was.
Usually I play with a track, [so] to present the new music, have a 10 piece band on stage on the main stage, it was just a dream come true.
What's next for you?
One of the highlights of my year is going to be headlining at the Fillmore. I never even would've imagined that that would be in the cards for me. It's a really trippy and beautiful and exciting moment for me playing with Son Rompe Pera. We're existing in completely different worlds, but I feel like we have such similar influences and all of their songs, I'm like, I know this music and I feel like they feel the same way about my music.
I'm a fellow for the California Arts Commission, so I will be working full-time with students writing, composing, arranging, and recording new music with my kids. May and June we'll be releasing music together and having a couple shows.
It feels really special to be at this point in my life where all of my interests and all of my skills are…[being put] to use for the first time in singular projects. I've always had a million jobs, but now being able to tie everything together and offer all of my gifts back to the kids, back to the community, that's what I was raised to do.
Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images
Outside Lands 2023: 10 Female And LGBTQIA+ Performers Taking Center Stage, From Lana Del Rey To Megan Thee Stallion
Outside Lands is stacking a sensational lineup for its 15th anniversary from Aug. 11 to 13. From aespa to Janelle Monáe, here's 10 awe-inspiring female and nonbinary artists who are ready to rule San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of San Francisco's Outside Lands, and while the festival always boasts the Bay Area's best, the 2023 lineup is especially stacked with incredible female and nonbinary talent. From aespa making K-pop history to La Doña's homecoming, the fest's latest iteration is bound to be badass.
As San Francisco transforms Golden Gate Park into a lavish festival ground for three days, check out these 10 performers ready to electrify the city.
Megan Thee Stallion
Time to get lit like a match. Megan Thee Stallion has been hitting stages across the country this year — from LA Pride to her hometown of Houston for the Men's NCAA Final Four — and there's no doubt she'll bring the heat to Golden Gate Park on Sunday. Though the three-time GRAMMY winner is known for her high-hype, feel-good freestyles, her latest album, Traumazine, opens up about anxiety and the importance of self-care. So whether you're having a hot or healing girl summer, her headlining set will be the spot for festgoers to let loose.
On Friday, Janelle Monáe will usher San Francisco into The Age of Pleasure. Sensuality and freedom flood the singer's most recent album, and for Monáe's headlining show, fans can expect bursting psychedelic soul, pop and hip-hop in an evening full of color and love.
Emphasizing intersectionality and identity (Monáe identifies as nonbinary), her wide-ranging performance will traverse her trailblazing concept albums like GRAMMY-nominated Dirty Computer and The ArchAndroid. Having conquered both the big screen and the stage as a multihyphenate, Monáe's set will be nothing short of a spectacle.
Hot off supporting Taylor Swift's Eras Tour, beabadoobee is headed to Golden Gate Park on Sunday afternoon. The Filipino-English singer/songwriter has carved out a space for herself between indie rock and bedroom pop, first becoming known for her sweet, spacey falsetto and her sleeper hit "Coffee" in 2020. The indie star has since expanded her worldbuilding abilities rapidly, spinning intricate scenes from her debut Fake It Flowers into her scenic second album Beatopia — similarly, beabadoobee's Outside Lands set will likely flaunt the vitality of her imagination.
Raveena is the definition of grace, and her Friday Outside Lands set is sure to swell with serenity. Mindfulness is the objective of the singer's soulful music as she grounds herself through tranquil mixes of R&B and pop. From her 2019 debut Lucid to 2022's Asha's Awakening, her voice epitomizes comfort whether it floats through delicate strings or stony drums. At Golden Gate Park, Raveena will bring momentary, blissful peace to the festival's chaotic fun.
Ethel Cain is ready to take concertgoers to church — even on a Friday. The experimental breakout star is known for dissecting dark, Southern Gothic themes in her music, establishing herself as a rising leader in the modern alternative genre (and also in the LGBTQIA+ community, as she is a trans woman). Her debut album Preacher's Daughter only came out last year, but the critically acclaimed album swiftly earned the musician a cult following. After bewitching Coachella audiences back in April, Cain's upcoming Outside Lands set is sure to be compelling.
More than 10 years after she wrote her first original song, NIKI is ready to storm the Twin Peaks stage. Her deeply sincere indie pop drifts with bittersweetness, and it's powerful to witness how well the Indonesian singer's intimacy translates to massive crowds.
Signed to label 88rising in 2017, NIKI soon found herself playing concerts for a growing global fan base that resonated with her heart-to-heart songwriting. Ranging from the dramatic depths of her debut album, MOONCHILD, to 2022's earnest self-titled Nicole, NIKI's Outside Lands set will be perfect for listeners who want to escape with their head in the clouds.
Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey is the reigning queen of summertime sadness, and she'll be doin' time at Golden Gate Park as one of Saturday's headliners. Known for spinning tales of tragic romance, the GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter plans to enchant audiences at Twin Peaks stage following her release of Did You Know There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Boulevard. Her discography haunts and aches, filled with everything from folky gospel to trap pop; if one thing's for sure, Del Rey's highly anticipated performance is bound to be a spiritual journey.
Born and raised in San Francisco, La Doña is making her city proud by performing at the Bay's biggest annual music festival. Taking the Lands End stage with her 11-piece band on Friday, the Chicana musician has come a long way since picking up the trumpet at age 7.
Centering around personal identity and community, her music beautifully merges traditional Latin folk with modern cumbia, reggaeton, and hip-hop. La Doña's progressive sound just earned her a spot on Barack Obama's annual summer playlist, and less than a month later, her hometown will get to see what all of the hype is about.
When aespa takes to Twin Peaks stage Friday, they'll make history as the first K-pop act to ever perform at Outside Lands. Exploding onto the music scene in 2020, the innovative South Korean girl group gives K-pop a fresh edge, distinctively inspired by hyperpop and hip-hop. The group's name combines the words "avatar," "experience," and "aspect," representing their futuristic style that's often embellished by a metaverse aesthetic. Their mind-blowing Coachella and Governors Ball debuts hinted that aespa is ready to pull out all the stops for their Outside Lands crowd.
Maggie Rogers knows how to break free. The 2020 Best New Artist GRAMMY nominee will get the crowd hyped for Saturday headliners Foo Fighters with an enthralling set. Although her debut album Heard It in a Past Life pulses with steady revelations, her alternative follow-up Surrender leans into sweat and desire. As she's proven at many festivals past, Rogers' show will be infused with bright energy, from the slow emotional burn of "Light On" to the exhilarating "Want Want" as the sun goes down.
Photo: Scott Legato/Getty Images
5 Ways Peter Gabriel's 'i/o' Furthers And Cements His Legacy
It was worth the wait: Peter Gabriel's 'i/o,' his first album in 21 years, both marks an evolution of his artistry and consolidation of his musical message. Here are five ways how.
"You've got to get in to get out," Peter Gabriel declared, over and over, in Genesis' epochal "The Carpet Crawlers."
A highlight of 1974's The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway — Gabriel's final album with the prog giants — the track is drenched in philosophical and religious symbolism, redolent of a spiritual pursuit. A mystical staircase stretches into the firmament, and the eerie "crawlers heed their callers."
If that sounds maximum heady, it's because it is. And almost half a century later, Gabriel sang a nearly identical line. "Stuff coming out, stuff going in/ I'm just a part of everything," he announces in "i/o" — the title track to his album of the same name, which stands for "Input/Output," dropped Dec. 1 after a 21-year wait.
Not all critics were taken with that turn of phrase. But despite its simplicity, coming from Gabriel, it's profound.
Listening to Gabriel's inimitable body of work — whose cerebral art-pop captivated a generation, and unforgettable videos brought MTV to its knees — you get the sensation of widening the aperture, of considering an eternal timeline, of surveying and striving to transcend human limitations.
Like his past classics — the four eponymous albums, his 1986 knockout So, its 1992 dark-horse followup Us — i/o connects not just due to its vast purview, but because of Gabriel's gigantic, ever-beating pop heart.
The ballads, like "Playing for Time" and "So Much," are magnificent, showing how Gabriel can ably occupy an elder-statesman role and project gravitas that way. But so are the perky, uptempo numbers a la "Sledgehammer" of yore. "Olive Tree," with its ebullient, Graceland-like horn blasts, suggest Gabriel preserving the best parts of the '80s charts, holding them in the light, and discarding the rest.
Once you come out of i/o, you go back in: Gabriel released the album in two simultaneous, slightly different forms, dubbed the "Bright Side Mix" and "Dark Side Mix." As soon as you've finished your journey, you're asked to undertake it again, through an alternate series of corridors and halls.
Refractory, self-referential, mold-breaking, primevally moving — i/o ticks all those boxes. Here are five ways it adds to the six-time GRAMMY winner's discography.
Despite Its Piecemeal Release, It Flows As A Whole
If these songs seem familiar, that's because they are: last January, Gabriel began releasing one new single per every full moon, with an attendant, alternate mix on the new moon.
This one-by-one approach might have risked blunting i/o's impact, if the finished product didn't flow so incredibly well.
From opener "Panopticom" to closer "Live and Let Live," i/o ebbs, flows, and breathes: if you've been following these songs track by track, you're missing out if you don't behold it as a complete song cycle.
His Voice Is Still A Force Of Nature
By 73, many vocalists find their instrument diminished — yet, Gabriel's has aged like wine. Rather than stripping away its layers, the years have added ever more weight and body to his baritone.
A creamy center, with a biting edge of yearning and inquiry — this is just as we remember Gabriel's pipes, but they're arguably even more satisfying today.
Sonically, The Decades Paid Off…
Some legacy artists toil and toil on a comeback record for many years — and the result is still, paradoxically, a tad half-baked.
This is not the case at all with i/o — you're unlikely to hear an album this aurally detailed and mesmerizing for a while. Which doesn't mean it's overly commercial or slick: it means it's meticulously crafted, full stop.
…And He Didn't Spoil The Stew
Sad to say, there's another extreme that records of this ilk can fall into — becoming overproduced, overly teeming, terminally busy.
For how lush and expansive i/o is, there's a tremendous amount of space; nothing feels superfluous. That said, if you do wonder how these tunes might come across with something added or excised, the alternate mixes are right there to quench that curiosity.
There's (Hopefully) More On The Way
"I'm a tinkerer," he elaborated. "So there's always a diversion. I've never had trouble — touch wood — with musical ideas. But getting to a point where I think there's a lyric that I'm happy with — that has been harder for me."
That being said, Gabriel doesn't foresee i/o being old enough to drink before the next one arrives.
In the same interview, he cited a "brain project" in the works, with "a lot of stuff in the can" — including a track called "What Lies Ahead," which he performed a number of times in 2023 and almost ended up on i/o.
Lucky us that a musical hero of past generations is still diamond-sharp. And that after so many years of Gabriel soaking up the input, his output flows freely again, sans resistance.
Photo: Justin James
7 Incredible Sets From L.A.'s Bésame Mucho Fest: Maná, Natalia Lafourcade, Paquita La Del Barrio & More
More than 60 acts performed at the Bésame Mucho Festival, held Dec. 2 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. From Amanda Miguel to Pepe Aguilar, revisit a handful of the sets from the leading lights in Latin music.
Diverse genres within Latin music were celebrated at the Bésame Mucho Festival on Dec. 2 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, where more than 60 acts performed. At the second edition of the festival — which will boast an Austin, Texas edition in March 2024 — artists performed an array of música Mexicana, rock en español, and Latin pop hits to a multi-generational crowd.
Iconic artists and bands performed on four massive stages: The Rockero, Las Clásicas, Te Gusta El Pop? and the Beso stages. Headliners included Cafe Tacvba, Los Bukis and Reik, while major acts such as Bomba Estereo, Los Angeles Azules, and Jesse & Joy added to the fest's wide-ranging sounds.
While a majority of acts were from Mexico, artists from Argentina, Colombia, and Spain were also in the mix. "It was nice to be considered part of such a cool catalog of bands," Luis Humberto Navejas, the lead singer of Latin rock group Enjambre, told GRAMMY.com.
The festival especially highlighted Mexican culture with giant installations of Maria rag dolls and colorful skeletons that are typical of the traditional Day of the Dead holiday.
Read on to learn about what went down during seven standout sets at the Bésame Mucho Festival.
Enjambre Represented The Future Of Latin Rock
Enjambre was one of the first bands to hit the Rockero stage. While most of the Latin rock groups on the line-up predated the 2000s, Enjambre broke through in 2010 with their album Daltónico. Since, the Mexican group have charmed fans in their home country, the U.S. and beyond with their electronica-infused rock.
The band captivated the crowd and had them dancing to their futuristic rock anthems, including "Y La Esperanza," "Divergencia," and "Elemento." With a swagger (and black suit and black pair sunglasses for extra cool) lead singer Luis Humberto Navejas commanded the stage while wielding the microphone stand. Even as the band rocked out, Navejas' otherworldly voice cut through to capture the emotional depth behind each song, especially the nostalgic "Dulce Soledad."
For their latest album Noches De Salón, Enjambre re-recorded their past hits with retro sounds. "We're shedding some light on these old and beautiful rhythms, like the cha-cha, danzón, bolero, and rancheras, that we love so much," Navejas told GRAMMY.com backstage.
Amanda Miguel Ruled the Stage With Her Románticas
One of Mexico's most beloved pop icons is Amanda Miguel, who drew cheers from the crowd as she hit the Te Gusta El Pop? in a bright golden pantsuit. After growing up in Argentina, she became a naturalized citizen of Mexico and later made an impact throughout Latin America and the U.S. thanks to her collection of hit romantic songs.
"It's music that thanks to my fans keeps transcending generations," Miguel told GRAMMY.com backstage. "It's music that's very healing and beautiful. It's music that promotes love, which is what we need the most in the world."
While other acts brought out pyrotechnics and other visual attractions, Miguel relied solely on her powerhouse voice to command the stage. She seamlessly glided between her love songs, such as the sweet "Hagamos Un Trato" and heartbreak anthems like "Dudas." The pain behind "Él Me Mintió" was especially palpable in her emotional performance, though Miguel lightened the mood during the sensual "El Gato y Yo," where she wailed like a rocker.
Paquita La Del Barrio Didn’t Let Illness Slow Her Down
Even before Paquita La Del Barrio hit the Clásicas stage, the crowd was chanting her name. A pioneer for women in música Mexicana, the legend pushed back on machismo ingrained in Latinx culture with her female empowerment anthems.
Paquita La Del Barrio performed her biggest hits while seated, revealing that she was suffering from a throat illness, but that didn't stop her sticking it to the men that wronged her in the classics like "Cheque en Blanco" and "Me Saludas a la Tuya." The crowd went wild when she yelled her famous phrase in Spanish, "Are you listening to me, you good-for-nothing?"
Paquita La Del Barrio brought down the house with her emotional performance of "Rata De Dos Patas," in which she compares a cheating lover to a rat. At the end of her set, she stood up to say, "Since 1947, I’ve received more applause than money and that’s what matters most."
Gloria Trevi Put on an Unforgettable Pop Spectacle
Gloria Trevi is one of Mexico's biggest pop icons and previously ranked as the most successful touring Mexican female artist. The 55-year-oldTrevu left it all on the stage during her larger-than-life pop spectacle and hits-filled set.
Trevi descended down a metal staircase that was uniquely part of her production in a fluffy pink coat. She revealed a white dress underneath that was studded with the colors of Mexico (Trevi's hour-long set included three costume changes). Singing and dancing with a team of male dancers, Tevi flipped around in the arms of her dancers to the glorious "Gloria" and later performed a split while singing "La Papa Sin Catsup." Trevi then crowd surfed while singing a rock-infused version of "Dr. Psiquiatra."
She got the crowd going wild when she belted out her breakthrough hit "Pelo Suelto," concluding her set in a blaze of rainbow lasers with her fierce performance of "Todos Me Miran," an anthem for the LGBTQIA+ community. Trevi's Bésame performance was a preview of next year's Mi Soundtrack World Tour.
Natalia Lafourcade Showed There’s No Limits To Latin Music
Natalia Lafourcade is known for infusing Latin music with elements of jazz, folk and alternative music — a style that has netted the Mexican singer\songwriter three GRAMMY awards and 17 Latin GRAMMYs.
Lafourcade got to prove that her beloved songs are even more breathtaking in a live setting, arriving on the Rockero stage with guitar in hand. While performing a stirring rendition of "María La Curandera," she broke out into a jam session with her band. Lafourcade sang her breezy title track from De Todas Las Flores, which won Record Of The Year at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs and is nominated for Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album at the 2024 GRAMMYs. Fellow nominees are Leche De Tigre by Diamante Eléctrico, Cabra's MARTÍNEZ, Vida Cotidiana by Juanes and Fito Paez's EADDA9223.
When addressing the crowd, Lafourcade was notably inclusive with using "todes," which is a progressive and gender-neutral way of saying "everybody" in Spanish. She got the crowd dancing when she performed the cumbia version of her hit "Nunca Es Suficiente." Lafourcade drew cheers when she said in Spanish that toxic partners belonged in the trash.
Maná Performed an Incredible Career-Spanning Set
Maná is one of the most-celebrated Mexican acts with four GRAMMY awards and eight Latin GRAMMY awards. After wrapping up a sold-out 16 show residency at the Forum last month, the legendary rock group serenaded Bésame Mucho with its timeless classics.
In his black leather jacket and leather pants, lead singer Fher Olvera and his bandmates ripped through their greatest hits, including "Corazon Espinado" and the funky "Hechicera." The band struck a fine balance between their raucous classics like the unruly "Me Vale" and the heartfelt power ballads like "Mariposa Traicionera" and "Labios Compartidos."
Maná also performed rock-infused covers of "Bésame Mucho" in honor of the festival and "El Rey" by the late ranchera icon Vicente Fernández. The latter was done to pay homage to Fernández and the band's Mexican roots. A full-on dance party erupted in the crowd when Maná performed a fired-up rendition of "Oye Mi Amor."
Pepe Aguilar Serenaded Concert-Goers With His Love Songs
Over the course of his career, Pepe Aguilar has won four GRAMMYs and five Latin GRAMMYs. He proudly represented his country and mariachi music during his hour-long set.
Aguilar appeared on the Clásicas stage in his Mexican charro suit, which is typical of mariachi singers. While performing the sweeping ballad "Directo al Corazón," he removed his giant sombrero to place it over his heart. "After this medley, you'll fall in love with someone," Aguilar promised in Spanish. "Open your heart and let yourself go." Then he continued to touch the hearts of his fans as he belted out his classics like "Perdóname" and "Me Vas A Extrañar."
Aguilar is known for his arena tours that embrace the Mexican tradition of jaripeo, or performances on horseback. While he couldn't bring the full jaripeo experience to Bésame Mucho, vivid images of Mexico and horses appeared behind him as he performed his biggest hits. He closed out his set with a heartfelt rendition of his signature love song "Por Mujeres Como Tú."
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood
6 Takeaways From 'Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé'
A celebration of Beyoncé’s 2022, multi-GRAMMY-award winning record, the 'Renaissance' documentary grossed $21 million in its first weekend in theaters and offers an in-depth look at one of this year’s hottest tours.
If there’s one thing that’s clear in Beyoncé’s new concert documentary — the referentially titled Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé — it’s that the singer works very, very hard.
Released in theaters on Dec. 1, the almost three-hour-long film follows the native Houstonian on the road this past summer, giving viewers an inside look at both the actual show and what’s going on inside Beyoncé’s head at any given time. (Spoiler alert: A lot!)
The latest in a string of concert films released in theaters in recent months, Renaissance was filmed at several dates along the 56-date sold out tour. The all-stadium Renaissance tour ran from May to October of this year and traversed much of Europe and North America.
A celebration of Beyoncé’s 2022, multi-GRAMMY-award winning record, the Renaissance movie grossed $21 million its first weekend in theaters. Here are six things we took away from watching Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé.
Renaissance Required A Ton Of Manpower & Steel
A few songs into the documentary, Beyoncé relaying her intentions for the film. She wants everyone to see the tour, of course, but she also really wants people to know about just how much went into even getting the tour off the ground. "The beauty is in the process," she said, showing off a massive binder full of different iterations of what the tour’s stage could have looked like.
The actual process of building the show from inception to launch, she said, took about four years. The Renaissance tour also required countless man hours, and not just by her team. The multi-continent tour required stagehands to build the massive screen every night, an army of hair braiders, costumers, makeup artists, dancers, caterers, and drivers.
Renaissance required multiple teams: One for the current show, and two other advance teams working ahead to build one of two additional stages at a stadium down the line. All told, there were 160 vehicles on tour, from semi trucks to buses. And while that might seem like it would cost a fortune, Beyoncé noted that the most expensive part of crafting the tour was the steel required to build a roof over their stage every single night.
That’s part of the reason, Beyoncé said in the film, that she put the crew in reflective silver jumpsuits every single night. She wanted fans to notice them, she says, "because it’s beautiful to see what they do."
Beyoncé Knows Ballroom
Anyone who’s heard the Renaissance album knows that it’s imbued with notes of queer ballroom culture, house music, and the sounds of the ‘70s and ‘80s dance underground. In the movie, Beyoncé relays how she learned about that music as a child thanks to her "Uncle Johnny," one of her mom’s longtime friends.
A Black gay man growing up in the south in the 1950s, Uncle Johnny faced more than his share of hardships, but found relative success through his work in the fashion industry. He crafted many of the early Destiny’s Child costumes, and brought house and ballroom culture into the Knowles' home by playing records.
On the album, Beyoncé pays homage to Uncle Johnny on "Heated," and also shows a photo of him with her mom at the end of the show. In the film, Bey wears her prom dress — which Johnny crafted — and, honestly, it still looks pretty on trend, even after all these years.
Beyond Uncle Johnny, though, it’s clear that Beyoncé has put in the work to know not just the history of ballroom (see: tour MC Kevin JZ Prodigy) but also its present. She pays tribute to Black trans and queer legends like TS Madison, MikeQ, Kevin Aviance and Big Freedia, and gives screen and face time to the Dolls, a group of four performers skilled in voguing and ballroom-style dance. (Side note: If you like Renaissance and you like the work of The Dolls and/or Mike Q, go check out "Legendary," a ballroom reality show that originally aired on HBO Max.)
The Renaissance Tour Had Fashions
Anyone following Beyoncé or members of the Bey Hive on Instagram this year knows that the singer was really turning things out fashion-wise on the Renaissance tour. But seeing all the costumes on the big screen can give you a true sense of the massive size and scope of the show's sartorial vision.
The documentary uses quick cuts during songs to hop from outfit to outfit, and it’s always more jaw-dropping than jarring. Beyoncé not only had multiple outfit changes every show, but she her looks changed throughout the tour. Every dancer (there had to be at least 16) and every member of the band also varied their wardrobe. Each outfit was impeccable, covered in rhinestones, and had to be built to move — and it had to look amazing. And they all did!
Beyoncé Grinds Hard
It should come as no surprise that Beyoncé is incredibly hard-working; only someone with an intense work ethic and extreme talent could have come as far as she has. That said, seeing how intricately involved she is in every little moment of the tour is staggering. For example, she said she’s learned a lot about lighting over the years so that she can work, every single night, to get the lights just how she wants them to be. (With the way her hair blows just so, she must also have a certificate in fan science.) The film shows Bey discussing truss lengths and smoke machines and, after one stage person tells Beyoncé that, no, sorry, they don’t make a support in that length, she comes back at him with, "Actually, i was just looking it up, and they do exist."
Putting aside the fact that being one-upped by Beyoncé would be both humbling and amazing, the fact that she even gets that deep into the nitty-gritty is mind-blowing.
Beyoncé said part of her drive is due to the fact that, because she’s a Black woman, people haven’t always taken her that seriously. People have had a tendency to ignore what she wants or needs, and because of that, she’s had to build up a level of fortitude that would put all of us to shame. Those people might push past or ignore her requests, but she’ll keep asking — and then she’ll start telling. "Eventually," she says, "they realize ‘this bitch will not give up.’"
All that grinding has taken a toll on the singer, though. She had knee surgery not too long ago, and she had to rehab extra hard to get ready for the tour. (She still grits through pain at points.) She also gets regular massages on the road, and she probably sleeps much less than she actually needs to.
11-Year-Old Blue Ivy Is Getting Ready To Rule
In one of the first glimpses we get of Beyoncé and Jay-Z's daughter in the movie, Blue Ivy is sitting behind her mom at tech rehearsals. It’s clear that Blue is taking it all in and knows she's studying at the feet of masters (her parents), preparing to take over the world of popular music.
A lot was made about Blue Ivy’s appearances on stage during the Renaissance tour — and for good reason. The decision to put Blue on stage wasn’t made lightly. Beyoncé said she always felt like a stadium stage wasn’t an appropriate place for an 11 year old, but eventually made an agreement with her daughter that, if she rehearsed hard with the dance team and put in the work, that she could do one show.
When that show went great, and then she was on the whole rest of the run. Fans in the audience held signs up singing her praises; people waited to see what she’d wear. And as Beyoncé said in the film, the tour lit a spark and set Blue's work ethic into high gear. While it’s still too early to tell what that’s really going to be, whatever it is will undoubtedly be a very big deal.
Renaissance Is For The Fans
While Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé is, at its core, a film about Beyoncé doing a tour and singing a bunch of songs, it’s also clearly a love letter to Beyoncé’s fans.
The Bey Hive feature very prominently in the film: There are hundreds of shots of people dancing, screaming, crying, or gawking in the audience. The documentary offers loving looks at the queer fans in the audience, the Black fans in the audience, and the people who really went all out on their outfits.
That adoration extended into the movie theater, too. At a Los Angeles screening, attendees dressed all in silver and clapped after every song. They even brought their kids, who they wanted to experience the Renaissance.
As Beyoncé says in the movie, in doing the Renaissance tour, she wanted to create a "cycle of pure love" or a "transfer of energy" between her in the audience, where she’d give them everything she had, and they’d give their all to her. That goal translated to the movie, which sounded great in the theater and had everyone in awe of Bey's artistry. Beyoncé, clearly, is an artist and a visionary and Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé is one reminder of her genius.