On Saturday, August 3, El Grupo Pesado, the quintet started 20 years ago and credited with launching modern “musica nortena” gave a stellar performance in Toyota Center to about 18000 adoring fans from all over Texas and Mexico, many of whom sang along to the most popular songs. Following the brief introduction, the group its 2011 hit song "O chillar a otra parte.
This was my first time seeing Pesado live. Ten months ago, before taking an intensive Spanish course, I had never heard of them. But in an effort to understand the spoken language, I started listening to local Spanish radio station El Norte 107.9 FM, “La Casa de la Musica Nortegna.” The style sounds like a blend of Polka and Latino rhythms, (at first, not my “cup of tea”). However, in a short time, as I began to understand the lyrics and appreciate the skill of the instrumental interludes, I started to like the genre more and more. The group was started in Nuevo Leon, Mexico near Monterrey by the brilliant accordion player and vocalist Beto Zapata and guitarist Pepe Elizondo backed up with guitars and percussion. Pesado has even recorded a song about the region, “El Corridor de Monterrey."
Even as a beginning Spanish speaker, many of the lyrics were clear messages of heartfelt passions, dealing with the full range of relationships and hopes. Of course, I had to download lyrics and look up a fair number of phrases, but I found myself enjoying the learning process, and eventually became a fan of Pesado.
Most of Persado's songs deal with love in all aspects from fascination with a person not yet introduced “Mi Promesa” asks a female friend to tell one of her close friends that he has fallen in love with her and promises eternal love and devotion.” The song was published in 2012 and has been viewed 7 million times on You tube. Other songs deal with happy marriages, romances gone sour, efforts at reconciliation, and divorce. A source not wishing to be named said the group has helped many cope with relationships by articulating deep feelings when a relationships turns hurtful.
On January 29, 2013 (shortly after I began listening) Pesado released “Mi primer amor” a song honoring the unconditional love of mothers. The piece airs almost every day, and became one of the rare singles released. It will be included in a forthcoming album.
Coverage of the concert was limited, despite the popularity of the group. The tour authorized media to record under strict conditions and supervision. Videos and still shots were authorized for a maximum of the first 30 seconds of the first three songs. Even some of the seasoned photojournalists were surprised when the conditions were explained minutes before the concert. It seems the reason was that Pesado was planning at least one premier piece, and it wanted to control the release and recording process. So, the recording session was short, but once we put cameras away for safekeeping, we could come back to hear the concert.
The crowd seemed mostly younger adults, 20- 30's but all ages were present and apparently some who knew of the group since its inception. Houston was the first American city where they performed, but always in much smaller venues. This was their first time at Toyota Center.
Pesado's music includes hundreds of recordings, most of which are available on YouTube and lyrics for the songs are available on music.com.
It's hard to summarize a group with such a long impact and robust portfolio of songs. Simply put, understanding Pesado's music is almost reason enough to learn Spanish.