It’s been two years since Billboard featured regional Mexican singer/songwriter Carín León as an upcoming artist with a hit on Billboard’s regional Mexican airplay chart. Since then, León – the former Grupo Arranke lead singer – has made seven other entries on the charts, including two No1s.
This success, including “El Tóxico” with Grupo Firme, is a testament to León’s versatility; He can shift from banda to norteño to ballads with equal ease, backed by powerful, soulful vocals.
León is even more impressive on stage. So much so that he played a near-sold-out concert to a euphoric crowd at Miami’s Hard Rock Live Arena on Sunday (September 4), which is extremely rare for a regional Mexican act in South Florida, where regional Mexican fans are rare and big artists of the genre rarely play at venues in or near Miami. But there is something about Leon. Here are five takeaways from his show.
1. When León puts on a show, he makes it big. During the two-hour performance, he was backed by a 20-piece band consisting of four clarinets and four trumpets. The highly sophisticated musical arrangements are by tuba player Gilberto Meneses on banda tracks and versatile guitarist/keyboardist Orlando Aispuro.
2. Let’s please change the paradigm of the regional “Mexican music”. Seeing a sold-out Hard Rock Arena – a venue traditionally reserved for pop, rock and alternative acts – was proof enough that the music can transcend the traditional stages and that there is a world-class audience ready to be there pay a good show . By the way, if you ever need an incentive to buy a really nice cowboy hat, go to a León show.
3. León loves his audience. Every song has an intro and boy are we having fun? It’s like a big party, especially when León is walking around with his drink in hand. Saludcita! (as he would say).
4. He is a musician musician. does the guitar play Check. sing a cappella? Check. Versatile? Just watch him navigate the bravura of the banda and the delicacy of the ballads. To make matters worse, the man knows how to swing his hips.
5. Get ready to spill secrets. León loves to talk and gives a new meaning to every song. For example, we found out that he lost his virginity on “You’re the One I Love” (Sigues Siendo Tu in Spanish). Some of our favorite lines from the evening: “Having a toxic wife in the house is a blessing. It means she loves you even if you’re ugly”; and: “We men are shameless. We always promise things we can’t keep.”