Thunderstorms could not dampen the excitement of fans as they waited outside the Aragon Ballroom to see Cuco. On tour promoting his latest album, Para Mi, dedicated fans endured pouring rain for over an hour as the line stretched around the city block. It was chaos by the time you made it inside the venue as everyone tried to squeeze in the tight corridors to get shelter. Footsteps squished on the floor as I waddled over to the merchandise stand. To no surprise, all the Cuco shirts were sold out. However, I was able to buy Kaina’s black and white Next To The Sun shirt and changed into it in the bathroom stall like many other attendees trying to regain a feeling of dryness.
It was a warm welcome home for the Chicago artist. Adorn in an olive green blouse, Kaina sang “Could Be A Curse” – the song features three languages: English, Spanish, and Japanese, but the message of depression is prevalent in each accent. Looking up at the ballroom’s ceiling one would notice a painted universe landscape that perfectly correlated to the song; a Milky Way blending stars, moons, and sun mixed in a swirl as Kaina’s soothing voice took you to another dimension. Eventually, Kaina brought everyone back to Earth by ending her set with her vibrant hit “Green.” Accompanied by her parents in her band, they played instruments and danced on stage together. Kaina finished her set by thanking her hometown but it’s her father who got the last words as he adorably took over the mic stating, “Thank you and goodnight,” holding up two peace signs with his hands as they walked off stage.
The all-ages’ show was fascinating to witness. There were little kids on the shoulders of their parents and high schoolers rushing towards the stage as at any moment there was a chance to get closer. And here I was walking around with a full bottle of wine on Sunday night looking like an alcoholic. But after being rained on I think it was well deserved. During intermission, the DJ spun a couple of classic tunes such as Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg’s “Dre Day” and Ice Cube’s “Check Yo Self.” I chuckled as the crowd erupted for each song due to the fact most of them weren’t alive when those songs came out. That’s the power of YouTube I suppose. However, I realized my hypocrisy once they played old corridos our parents raised us on. A Mexican flag hung over the balcony while Los Tigres Del Norte’s “La Puetra Negra” blasted throughout the arena. The rowdy fans light up the place with their phones and began dancing Norteño, our version of a mosh pit. To see brown pride run rampant in unison was a thing of beauty. Even those in attendance who weren’t Mexican could appreciate the passion the crowd displayed.
Once the DJ set was over, fans chanted Cuco repeatedly and exploded in enthusiasm when he finally arrived. Looking like a Mexican John Lennon, Cuco casually walked to his microphone stand. He started off with a banger, “Keeping Tabs.” The crowd sang along for the high-pitch chorus, “Smoking broken windows playing my Nintendo. If you fuck with me then I’ll pull out my extendo.” Talking about taking acid tabs and magical mushrooms with colorful kaleidoscope display to an all-age crowd didn’t seem right. Then again, I probably shouldn’t have been listening to the Slim Shady LP when I was seven either. To each their own. Cuco followed up with the bass-heavy, love/hate dynamic jam “Bossa No Sé.” Stepping down from the stage to the floor to sing with fans, his entire entourage and VIP section got on stage. The crowd stayed hyped as everyone could relate to being with someone for too long but not being able to let him or her go. Cuco continued the theme of love being a drug by performing the hazy track “Hydrocodone.” At this point, the wine was kicking in so I was okay with a more mellow sound. He continued on with a series of synth-heavy, slow jams such as “Lo Que Siento,” “Feeling,” and “Cupid’s Quiver.”
Once it was over the fans demanded more screaming, “¡Otra! ¡Otra!” Cuco answered the call of an encore by playing his epic trumpet solo for “Amor de Simpre.” With the 22nd technically being the last day of summer, it was a little disappointing Cuco didn’t perform his hit single from last year “Summertime High.” However, it was hard to be upset with the overall quality of the show bringing together people of all ages and the fact his tour spotlighted local talent as well as showcased his Latino roots.