One of my favorite clubs in Guadalajara is the C3, a three-story building in the trendy Districo Americano that houses two different clubs. Downstairs is the C3 Stage venue with over a 1000 capacity and an upstairs with booths and couches and railings to hang over. On the 3rd floor – actually an enclosed roof – is C3 Rooftop, a smaller showcase club with capacity around 250 with tables and chairs and standing area in front of the stage.
The C3Stage stage area is big enough for all but the large international acts, the lighting and sound are world class, but it is the people of C3 who create a friendly ambiance and a welcoming vibe that I appreciate most.
I rolled into the C3Stage Friday night with my friends JP and Stephanie to catch Mary’s Island in their Rooftop gig. They are a local Ajijic band with a real flair for happy, addictive bilingual pop music that feels very tropical, and gets you laughing and moving. They were opening for Lola Club, a nationally popular Mexican duo with over 60 million Spotify streams and a lovingly obsessed fanbase.
My last visit to the C3Stge was during a rainstorm and the security people made room for me in the tiny unloading area in front of the club so I would not have to lug video equipment in the rain. This time, we pulled up and were confronted by a huge crowd of anxious fans and a line of black-clad heavy-duty security guards in military type uniforms and balaclavas. Then I noticed the billboard outside announced that the Stage was the Guadalajara stop for The Ocean Collective in the Mexico leg of its world tour promoting Phanerozoic II.
But, true to form, a vey large security official detached himself from the police line as we unloaded my equipment and gave me a big smile and said welcome in Spanish, with a question mark at the end. In my not-great Spanish, I told him we were here to video Mary’s Island in the Rooftop and said we had passes. His smile got even bigger as he told me he spoke English, having lived for years in LA, and we were more than welcome, just as soon as they let the crowd into the C3Stage.
When we finally got upstairs there was local warmup band on stage and a thick crowd in the center of the club, taking my usual spot in the front row slightly offset from the center mic. I had to set up my tripod in the comer, off to the side of the stage in front of the band entrance and shoot around a tall guy and his girlfriend. But it worked.
Mary’s Island arrived, gave me hugs and abrazos and fist bumps and hit the stage.
They were great. By the time they got set up and mic checked, the crowd had doubled, mostly Mexican twenty- and thirty- somethings and a sprinkling of older gringos. And everyone knew the songs. Joy ensued, one of their trademarks.
The band was so much better than the live performance I had seen in small clubs in Ajijic– and those were so good they turned me on to following the band in the first place. The energy from the crowd amped them up and they amped the crowd and the night turned into a musical lovefest. They played songs from their upcoming album in English and Spanish leaving the crowd wanting more (and handing out download cards to meet the demand).
Lola Club came on next after a setup break. The room was now pretty much at capacity – this is the band many of the newcomers were here to see. And they did not disappoint. After explaining that they have downsized from their usual 5-person band they promised all the their favorite hits, jokes, stories and surprises. And they delivered. The jokes came with an easy patter between songs punctuated by cigarettes and funny stories. The hits …well, it seems like everyone in the room knew every song and sang with them. At one point they spotted a young woman singing her heart out with them – and singing very well – and brought her up onstage to solo with them. The love fest continued.
After the final, final, final encore and the duo left the stage and gathered with fans, the chief of security came over to us and asked us how it went, gave me his name and told us next time, come early he will let us in and we can get the perfect photo spot. I love the C3 stage. And Mary’s Island.
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