A About a week before the Sueños Music Festival, many took to social media to sell their tickets by voicing their concerns on a single stage. Although many tried to sell their tickets, the two-day festival saw over 45,000 attendees. As we reflect on the first urban Latinx music festival held in Grant Park over Memorial Day weekend, the overwhelming feeling is that Latinos sure know how to throw a party.
The festival grounds surrounding the single-stage installation featured local Chicago vendors like Mackerel, Loaf Tongs and others. From the creators of the Baja Beach Festival, Sueños has proven to be a dedication to Latinx Chicagoans. Occasional mariachi performances by the all-female ensemble, Mariachi Sirenas, kept the entertainment alive off the stage.
“I think it’s definitely very vibrant, but it’s also very modern – they’ve paid a lot of attention to detail,” said Little Village resident and festival attendee Jon Lopez.
Lopez, who came with his girlfriend, Lucia Sanchez, said he would have liked to see more screens in a similar way to Baja Beach Fest. What made the jump from Baja to Chi was Dj Fredy Fresco. “Dj Fredy Frescohe just kept the party going all day, all night,” Lopez said.
Fresco, originally from Rosarito, Mexico, is the official DJ and host of Baja Fest and now Sueños.
“It’s a lot of preparation, knowing what not to play, what you can play, what will work, what keeps people engaged,” Fresco said between sets describing his preparation for Sueños.
The energy and enthusiasm of the crowd was alive and well throughout the festival. Mayor Lori Lighfoot addressed the crowd on day one, giving a special shoutout to Chicago’s only talent in the lineup, Dj Miriam.
“It’s crazy. It’s crazy. It’s so surreal. It just reassures me that what I’m doing is worth it,” Miriam said.
Miriam DJs at local venues and will be part of the lineup at Chicago’s Mas Flow Reggaeton Fest later this summer. She will also be touring the country with entertainment company, V5 Group, for their all-female reggaeton pop-up series, Sorry Papi.
“I’m overwhelmed to have so much love and support, and I can’t thank people enough for their support.”
Overall, attendees felt a sense of community and belonging to a range of artists that included not only urban artists, but also artists representing the regional Mexican musical genre like Fuerza Regida and Natanael Cano.
“Regional music just got created during the pandemic,” Fresco said. “A lot of bands started coming out like Grupo Firme exploded, Fuerza Regida exploded, Natanael Cano, he really exploded.”
Sueños bought out the Latinx community of Chicago, the second largest racial group in the city with about 75% being of Mexican descent. Despite the overwhelming makeup of Mexican Latinos, other Latin American nationalities, such as Puerto Ricans and Colombians, have always come forward emphasizing the transnationality of the two genders that shared the Sueños scene.
“You got Cubans and Puerto Ricans and all kinds of people singing that shit,” Fresco said, referring to regional Mexican music.
Mexican regional music has exploded in recent years with the help of subgenres like corridos tumbados. Corridos tumbados or corridos verdes employ the traditional sounds of corridos combined with lyrics about cannabis. This new take on corridos has seen a growing number of streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. Playlists on Spotify like “Corridos Perrones” have multiplied 1.4 million subscribers around the globe.
Regional Mexican and reggaeton have taken over international stages, often influencing each other. Natanael Cano infamously collaborated with reggaeton superstar Bad Bunny releasing the ‘Yo Soy El Diablo’ remix in 2019. and its black heritage are notable for the success of the genre. .
The festival featured Afro-Latinx reggaeton artists Sech, El Alfa, Ozuna and Tokisha, who are among the few breaking the barriers of the white Latinx-dominated genre.
Puerto Rican artists like Wisin & Yandel also graced the scene, old school reggaeton artists who laid the foundations of the genre today. A clear fan favorite, however, was Ozuna who capped off the first day with fireworks decorating the city skyline.
“Fue un concierto completo prácticamente lo que lanzó el, fue el único que hizo eso,” festival-goer Klaein Bert said of Ozuna, who he says staged an entire concert.
Bert, originally from Venezuela, came to Sueños with his cousin Jesus Gil. Gil was especially looking forward to Myke Towers.
“It’s a different vibe, you already know that, Latinos [are a] vibe unlike anything you’re used to,” Gil said.
Many like Gil anticipate the second round.
“It has to be an annual thing, no matter what.”
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Jocelyn Martinez-Rosales is a freelance multimedia journalist from Chicago who covers the city’s POC communities through a social justice lens.