This past Monday (July 8th), Omar Banos—better known by his stage name, Cuco—was expected to return to the Rio Grande Valley for a performance at Pulga Los Portales in Alton, Texas. The show would have brought the first stretch of his summer tour to a close in front of more than 1,600 screaming fans—the largest crowd ever projected to attend an “indie” music show in Valley history. However, due to concerns over the negative health effects that high summer temperatures could have on attendees, Tigersblood.org announced Monday morning that the show would be rescheduled and expanded to two significantly-cooler nights on Dec. 2nd and 3rd, leaving many ticket-holders frustrated and looking for answers.
The show, which would have been Cuco’s third visit to the Rio Grande Valley in the last three years as well as his first since signing a seven-figure deal with Interscope, was announced back in April by Tigersblood.org, and was originally set to take place at Cine El Rey in downtown McAllen. The historic theater can hold up to 500 people, and has long been the venue of choice for Tigersblood.org to host both touring and regional artists with larger followings, but due to the overwhelming demand for Cuco’s return, a larger venue was required to host all of the people that wanted to see the Hawthorne-born heartthrob play once more before the release of his debut album, Para Mi, on July 26th. The show was then moved to Pulga Los Portales, where like it’s predecessors, it quickly sold out several times as tickets were added to meet a growing demand from fans in the Rio Grande Valley.
Monday’s decision to reschedule came after multiple reports appeared on Twitter by attendees of Cuco’s previous Texas dates which claimed that audience members had fainted from the heat, and in the case of his show at San Antonio’s Sunset Station just the night before, one young audience member also suffered a heat-induced seizure, prompting an alarmed Cuco to end the show early. According to the tweets, the Californian musician had already stopped the show several times after noticing audience members were visibly uncomfortable due to the amount of crowding that was taking place near the stage, and appeared visibly shaken during his signature post-show meet-and-greet.
Along with their tweets, concerned audience members from the San Antonio show also left comments in the event page for Monday’s show to share their experiences and encourage people to use caution when attending the event. However, following the announcement Monday morning, hundreds of ticket-holders in the Rio Grande Valley appeared more concerned with the inconvenience of the decision than with the potential risks to their health and well-being, filling the comments section of the announcement with waves of vitriol throughout the day. Many criticized the timing of the announcement, the choice of venue, and some even offered solutions of their own in an attempt to save the show, despite the decision to reschedule coming from both Tigersblood.org and Cuco himself.
While clearly coming from a place of frustration, these comments demonstrated not just a clear disregard for the safety of others, but a blatant disregard for the feelings of Cuco as well. In the time since his last performance in March of last year at Tigersblood.org’s DREAMS music and arts festival in McAllen, the 21-year-old’s music has taken the entire world by storm, sending him on a journey that has brought him both incredible highs and equally disastrous lows in a short amount of time. Considering the reality of meeting the expectations of a new label contract while supporting his family through his music and also trying to recover—not just physically but emotionally—from a near-death experience, it could logically be assumed that Omar Banos is under a lot of pressure at the moment.
Now consider the experience of being in that headspace and watching one of your fans have a seizure at one of your shows because not only have the summer months been hotter than ever due to global warming but regardless of whether you’re indoors or outdoors, standing in the middle of a crowd at a show is going to generate large enough amounts of body heat to pose a threat to anyone who isn’t properly hydrated or tall enough to have regular access to fresh air. The word that could best describe this experience: terrifying.
With this in mind, the decision to avoid putting more people at risk makes perfect sense. It may not be a convenient decision, it doesn’t pay people back for the days they took off work to see the show nor for their hotel reservations, and it doesn’t make up for their lack of things to do on a Monday evening, but it is the right one. The response from ticket-holders in the Rio Grande Valley lacks empathy, compassion, and respect for fellow showgoers, and does a disservice to what the RGV music scene strives to represent both at home and abroad.
A majority of the more than 1,600 ticket-holders are in their late teens and early 20s, which is the most prominent age group in the scene at the moment, and yet the average amount of people that attend a local show on any given night rarely goes beyond 50, and perhaps even that figure is being generous. Would it be possible for the perspectives of the people upset about Monday’s news to change if they became more familiar with their local music scene? Would more cool things happen in the Valley? This writer would like to think so.