My only previous Mariachi experience is with the movie Coco, so I was super excited for my first live experience to be with “The Queen of Mariachi”. I know that Latino culture is super fun and lively, but I didn’t anticipate how crazy the audience would be for a mariachi performance. I felt as though I was watching a soccer game. As soon as the band ran out everyone starting jumping in their seats whistling and screaming. When they first started playing, I couldn’t even hear the band because everyone around me was so loud. This wasn’t only to introduce the band, throughout the performance, usually, when Aida was not on the stage, the audience would be screaming and singing along with the musicians. When it was only the mariachi band performing it felt as though I was watching a bar band that was encouraging everyone at the bar to sing along. They were humorously dancing, joining arm over shoulder, and soloing on each of their instruments. Every instrument got a turn, but the most excitement happened during the accordion solo. My personal favorite was the bongos. I enjoyed the bongo solo, but I thought the most pivotal role of the bongo’s was supporting the other instruments during their solos. I thought that it was the bongo that gave the strongest mariachi feel to the music, and it was the tempo of the bongo that the audience would react too. I also enjoyed the violins because they wound very different than the violins I am used to hearing. They were a lot scratchier, at times sounding like a cat scrawling, but were still so much fun to listen too.
When Aida was on the stage there was a different mood amongst the audience. She was a spectacle for us to watch and adore. Aida performed visually as much as she did vocally. Her first outfit was a large red dress that resembled a rose. In this dress she song long beautiful notes while quivering her voice to emphasize sadness. I think quivering their voices in mariachi is how they show power in their notes, different than western music which often emphasizes how loud or high you are able to get your voice. I was surprised by how soft her voice was in the first half. I always expected mariachi to be very intense. I actually enjoyed this part of the performance the most, the songs were gloomier and Aida poured so much emotion into every song. It looked like she even cried during some of the songs she sang.
When she came out the second time her outfit resembled the rest of the mariachi band. Uncoincidentally her singing matched the mariachi band as well. It was intense and powerful and most lively than the first half. I enjoyed that the mariachi band was livelier when Aida wore the mariachi outfit. There was a really fun portion when all the violinists were bouncing their bows on the strings creating an extremely lively feel.
The thing that impressed me the most was that no one had sheet music. In classical music they are always reading off sheets, but in mariachi they do not. I find it hard to believe that they memorize every note, which means they play off of feeling. It surely wasn’t improvising because everyone was always in sync.