Grupo Firme Day in L.A.: Banda plays to its fans while touring around Boyle Heights
There's busking and there's sightseeing busing.
The popular Banda musicians of Tijuana's Grupo Firme combined the two and boisterously made their way through Boyle Heights on Thursday, atop an iconic red sightseeing bus, ahead of their record-breaking Memorial Day weekend concert at SoFi Stadium.
Performing aboard the two-deck vehicle, the regional Mexican music septet visited the Mariachi Plaza and El Mercadito while in Boyle Heights — two cultural hubs in the predominantly Mexican L.A. neighborhood. Footage posted on the band's official Instagram account featured the musicians singing along to "Ni el Dinero Ni Nada," a cover of a ranchera by legendary Mexican singer-songwriter José Alfredo Jiménez.
Lead singer Eduin Caz posted several clips from the appearance, much to the delight of fans who begged in the comments for the band's ostentatious bus to commute through their respective communities.
The Latin Grammy-winning norteño group — known for the hits “El Tóxico,” “Ya Supérame” and 2021’s “Cada Quien” with Maluma — will play SoFi on Saturday. The band will become the first to perform at the Inglewood venue in two consecutive years and the first artists to play there in the round, a representative for SoFi Stadium said. (Metallica will play in the round at the stadium on Aug. 25 and 27 and Ed Sheeran will too on Sept. 23, but all previous concerts have been been set up with the stage in the stadium's north end zone.)
The venue is expecting between 50,000 and 60,000 attendees Saturday, and tickets are still available.
"Grupo Firme is a reflection of our community. Their shows at SoFi Stadium represent our commitment to curating exceptional experiences that resonate with our diverse audiences," said Adolfo Romero, the VP of programming and booking for SoFi Stadium, YouTube Theater and Hollywood Park. "Their passionate and electrifying performances embody an authentic connection with their fans and we wanted those lasting memories for fans to be at SoFi Stadium."
The group also broke the stadium's attendance record formost tickets sold by a Latin band or artist. Last year, the Enfiestados y Amanecidos tour sold more than 100,000 tickets at SoFi over two shows. They previously set the record in downtown L.A.'s Crypto.com Arena for the largest number of consecutive presentations by a Latino group in the history of the venue, which was formerly known as the Staples Center.
Inglewood on Tuesday also recognized the group during a city council meeting for its "remarkable musical contributions" and for breaking the SoFi Stadium record. The council also said that Grupo Firme was the first Mexican regional band to perform inside the council chambers at the award presentation.
"It is something unique. Honestly even more because they told us they've never brought a band to the city's installations," Caz told KABC-7. "We got here with the band. It's something nice for us. More than anything because people love us here."
On Friday, Los Angeles followed suit, welcoming Grupo Firme into its city council chamber to applaud the members' achievements with a dozen-piece brass band while singing "El Amor No Fue Pa' Mí." Declaring it Grupo Firme Day, the Friday celebration was "rooted in something that is quintessential to our city, and that's the Mexican people and their culture," L.A. City Councilman John Lee said during his presentation.
"Grupo Firme is a banda that has been breaking barriers by reaching success that is comparable by few," Lee said. "They've crossed over genres and fan bases because they don't go about things following a very linear path.
"They carve out their way forward and their success has explained the name Grupo Firme, beyond Mexico, making huge waves in the United States and beyond to the point where they casually enjoy over 16 million monthly listeners on Spotify."
Lee also noted that the band, which fuses traditional music with pop and urban elements, is the third Mexican musical act to have a song on the Billboard Hot 100 and the first banda to play Coachella. He also said that anyone paying attention surely noticed how they've been "on a tear through the city recently" ahead of their SoFi show.
"We're Mexican. We come here to fulfill our dreams. We've come to represent, proudly, the American dream," band manager Isael Gutierrez said in Spanish upon taking the lectern. "And we'd like to say to all the Mexican Americans, yes, you can. We have proudly fulfilled our dreams by representing the American dream. And thank you to this country and everyone here."
Councilman Kevin de León also addressed the group in Spanish and praised their visit to Boyle Heights, which he said is one of the greatest places with a majority-Mexican population outside of Mexico.
"Mexicans have to leave their country of origin to cross this border to come here looking for this golden dream, just like you. And we're not begging, no sir, but we work hard with the sweat from our own brow. We're all very proud," De Leon said.
Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez also said she was proud to celebrate Grupo Firme Day.
"It's not a surprise that here in the city of Los Angeles that this band can be so catalytic in generating the highest-grossing ticket sales of any concert in the Southern California region. And that speaks to the power of the Latino community here in Los Angeles," she said. "It's incredibly important that here in our city that we recognize who we represent. These are the individuals that galvanize and empower our community."
Meanwhile, the Mexican rock band Maná is set to perform Saturday across the street from SoFi Stadium at the Kia Forum in Inglewood.
Times staff writer Carlos De Loera and Tommy Calle contributed to this report.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.