Yaamava’ Resort & Casino kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month and celebrated Mexican Independence Day with a private performance by Mexican pop rock band Maná on Thursday, Sept. 15.
The concert was held at the Highland casino’s newly built, 2,500-seat theater and was limited to VIP guests only. Fher Olvera, lead singer of the Spanish rock band, came out with a “Viva Mexico” shirt and told the crowd the band was excited to be performing for Mexican Independence Day. He cracked jokes, took tequila shots intermittently and toasted the crowd in celebration.
“Today also marks the first day of Hispanic Heritage month, and we’ve spent a lot of time traveling to this country, and I am happy to say that we feel like this is now our country, too,” Olvera said.
The band played many of their hits, including “Corazon Espinado,” their collaboration with Carlos Santana, and other tracks such as “Labios Compartidos,” “Vivir Sin Aire” and “En el Muelle de San Blas.”
The performance was intimate in contrast to the usual stadium and arena shows they’ve grown accustomed to playing, like the Los Angeles residency at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, where the band plays Sept. 16-17 and Oct. 21-22.
Olvera stopped the show a few times to give some anecdotes about how the band started playing at some of the smallest clubs and bars in Los Angeles and how grateful they were for their success 30 years later. He spoke about the band’s disbelief when former President Barrack Obama invited them to the White House for a Cinco de Mayo performance.
“This just goes to show you that Latinos have so much room to grow,” Olvera added.
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He said that the band was proud to be from Guadalajara, Mexico, a place responsible for bringing tortas ahogadas and tequila to the world. He took the opportunity to say how welcome the band feels in California and said Americans are always welcome in Mexico.
Maná’s sense of pride was not limited to the stage, but was shared by many in the crowd waving Mexican flags as the band performed. At one point, a fan in the crowd waved a flag that combined the American and Mexican flags.
Olvera asked the fan if he could borrow it and tied the flag to a large Mexican flag to signify unity, which brought loud cheers from the crowd.
Vanessa Alvarez of Upland, said seeing Maná perform was a dream come true. She grew up listening to the band, thanks to her mom, and said seeing them brought her to the verge of tears.
“Events like this spread love and joy,” Alverez said. “We’re able to share our music and culture and I am excited to see that.”
At the end of the show, Olvera bid his farewells and took the time to thank the generations of Latinos that have been part of the country historically.
“I want to thank all of the Latinos who have spent so much time working in this country to make it what it is today,” he said. “It’s worth recognizing their contributions, and I am happy to see more Americans doing the same.”