Concert preview: Los Tigres del Norte en Concierto, Siempre Contigo Tour | 02.24.23, The Factory

8:00pm |The Factory, 17105 North Outer 40 Road, Chesterfield, MO 63005 | All ages | From $49

If you’ve ever marveled at the Mexican style of music that reminds you a little bit of polka, or vice versa, you have marveled at the wonder that is Norteño music. It sounds like polka because it truly is a remarkable integration of Czech, German, and Polish music and dance into local Mexican music that resulted from European immigrants dispersing across Northern Mexico. It goes way back—like Emperor-Maximilian-in-the-19th-century far back.

And if you’ve heard one Norteño song in the US, there’s a good chance you have heard Los Tigres del Norte. Established in the 1960s by Northern Mexico teens who relocated to San Jose, California, they’ve been recording albums since 1968 and won multiple Grammys from 2009-2016, including the broadly-defined “Best Mexican/Mexican-American Album” and the more recent (and precise) “Best Norteño Album.”   

The trademark Norteño sound features a combination of Mexican and European elements: an almost waltz-like meter, accordion, bajo sexto (a 12-string acoustic guitar playing the role of sousaphone), and the occasional cry of enthusiasm. It’s music made for moving, working, dancing, or otherwise whiling away time with friends and compatriots.

The trademark lyrical style, however, is all Mexican. Los Tigres del Norte deliver corridos, ballads that began as artifacts of oral history, recounting famous battles in revolutionary wars and classic heroes. Modern corridos have evolved to tell stories about underdogs and mavericks, everyday heroes and larger-than-life rebels, life on the edge. They are stories of narcotraffickers and their families, of border-crossings and homesickness for Sinaloa and Michoacan. The chorus of the Los Tigres del Norte classic “Un Dia a la Vez” carries the refrain of workers of the world, just getting by, ‘one day at a time.’ If you’re not a Spanish-speaker, a little effort and internet searching will give you a feel for the subject matter. If you understand a modicum of Spanish, you might follow along with their tales of bravery, hard work, diligence and determination, justice, faith, and the joys and pains of love. And if you’re fluent, lucky you, you can join in the chorus of fans that begins with the very first words bursting through the microphone.

It’s been about fifteen years since the legendary Los Tigres del Norte have brought the party to St. Louis. Expect dresses and cowboy hats, dancing, a whole lot of gritos, and a nonstop sing-a-long. Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to know all the words to appreciate the music. The drama, the mood, the outfits, and the oompah are still plenty to enjoy. | Courtney Dowdall

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