Avándaro was Mexico’s first, and worst, rock concert.
Officially plugged as Festival Rock y Ruedas de Avándaro or Avándaro Rock and Wheels Festival, it was a major turning point in the culture of modern Mexican youth. It started out to be a combination of race cars with a sideshow of the current rock music scene, but it was the latter that ended up predominating. The anticipation and craving for a genuine Mexican Woodstock was just too great to be contained and as soon as it was announced, the fervor started to snowball, and was quickly out of the control of the organizers.
The venue, Avándaro, is an idyllic lake in Valle de Bravo in the pine forested mountains of the State of Mexio, about an hour’s drive from Mexico City. And there the semblance to Woodstock ends. Well, apart from the crowd of tens of thousands of rock fanatics and some rock bands who were brave enough to participate.
Treatises and theses have been written about this monumental event and I don’t intend to get into what it may have meant and what actually happened. I will say that it was a huge deal that had enormous impact, some positive but much not, on Mexican youth culture for a long time, which I guess is another semblance to Woodstock.
In any case, this intrepid photographer was there back in September of ’71 and came home with little damage, apart from getting soaked in the never ending rain. So imagine walking through this crowd snapping pictures. . .
By the way, the bands were mostly lousy but they suffered through it like everyone else! And for as miserable as it was, I’m glad I was there. It was a not inconsequential piece of Mexican history.