010. Identikit: Radiohead in Mexico
I just want to start this post by saying how much of an immense privilege it was for me to go see Radiohead in Mexico. The crowds both nights were indisputably the most overtly passionate of any shows I’ve ever been to: singing all the lyrics at the top of their lungs (whether the words were right or not); dancing to each song with individual intensity; and cheering so fiercely that a third encore on the second night was non-negotiable. These are just some of the things that made our stop an absolute highlight. Despite being aggressive and violent at times (I have the battle scars to prove it) – Mexico City’s Radiohead fans have this distinctive, infectious energy. I felt more at home and in awe of this band’s power than ever.
But there was one thing about this stop that was of paramount importance (and anxiety) for me. I am half Peruvian, half white American. My mom is the first generation of her family in the United States, having emigrated from Peru on her own. I have always been proud of that – of being made whole by two very different cultures – both of which are admirable and fascinating in their own way. But admittedly, I’ve always felt like I’ve had an identity crisis. I did not grow up speaking Spanish, or being really immersed in Peruvian culture, so I’ve always felt disconnected with that side of myself. I enjoyed, and was proud of my family’s trips to Peru every couple of years – but I never felt like I really fit in there. I always felt like an outsider due to my lack of fluency, which translated into general shyness around my family.
However, being in Mexico with these fans, I immediately felt at home. We started day one of interviews with a translator, but my crew and I quickly realized that I could perform these on my own. I understood, spoke, learned, shared enthusiasm – and found that I really knew much more of the language than I’d originally thought. It was a really enlightening and personally fulfilling time for me. We met some of the most passionate and interesting fans in this city, who shared stories of loss, love, inspiration and enjoyment. I’m so proud that I got to speak to them about this one on one, with no walls or barriers. I’ll never forget all of the gracious and lovely people I met throughout each day. This has to be my most notable Radiohead life experience to date.
And then, as I stood at the rail and watched the band before me each night – I couldn’t help but feel so incredibly grateful that I have something like this in my life. Something that I feel so strongly about, that my dedication is boundless; that my fervor transcends language; and that I have the assurance that anywhere I go, no matter what language is spoken, I will still feel just as strongly, as will everyone surrounding me. No matter what country you are in, people will still queue, sprint, and experience, with the same awe in their eyes no matter their background. The world feels so much smaller knowing that. I feel whole.