A crowd estimated by organizers at 100,000 gathered Sunday afternoon at the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area to celebrate the independence of six Latin American countries at the “Fiesta de Independencia ’98,” sponsored by three popular Hispanic radio stations.
And the man responsible for keeping most of the people dancing under the scorching sun is regarded as one of the most talented songwriters and musicians of Mexican pop, Marco Antonio Solis.
Besides having the ability to create pop hits out of thin air, Solis has achieved a certain mystique--an almost messianic aura--with his gentle attitude and long hair. That made him fascinating to watch Sunday as he based most of his performance on the hits he’s composed for Los Bukis, the group he led for nearly two decades before leaving in 1995.
The crowd went wild over the tuneful melodies and sparse arrangements of songs such as “Una Mujer Como Tu” and “Chiquilla Bonita.” Another Bukis gem, the moody “Como Fui A Enamorarme De Ti,” exemplifies the virtues of Solis’ music: Lyrics about heart-wrenching love affairs are embellished with anachronistic ‘80s aesthetics borrowed from American corporate pop, with prominent keyboard chords simulating the sighs of the backup vocalists.
Solis proved himself a capable musician, playing the guitar on most of the songs and even performing a blistering timbale solo. When he sang his ranchera “La Venia Bendita,” the biggest hit from his 1997 debut solo album, the gorgeous textures of the material proved that he has still a lot to offer. The singer is scheduled to release his second solo album in November.
Other acts in the bill--former Bronco singer Jose Guadalupe Esparza and the lovely Yesenia Flores--performed brief sets accompanied by a mariachi orchestra, but they just couldn’t match the sheer charisma of the inimitable Solis.