Tool, Primus, Jack Johnson to Play the Cumbre Tajin Festival, Mexico

Tool, Primus, Jack Johnson, and many international bands will perform at the Cumbre Tajin music festival in the state of Veracruz in eastern Mexico on March 20-24, 2014.

The festival features some of the biggest names from the wide world of rock in Spanish, along with cultural events, a full day of electronic music, and popular bands playing more traditional Latin styles.

What’s more, Cumbre Tajin takes place at the Tajin archeological site, ruins of a massive pre-Colombian city of angular pyramids and crumbling palaces rising up from the deep green jungle. By night colorful floodlights will light up towering pyramids, and by day numerous stands and displays will provide information about the long, mysterious history of El Tajin.

The Tajin area is home to the Totonaca culture. Neither Aztecs nor Mayans, the Totonaca have a unique vision of the world, with their own language, colorful clothing, rich food, and ritual dances and ceremonies, such as the Papantla fliers, indigenous acrobats who spin in the air from tall poles with thick ropes tied to their ankles.

The Papantla fliers and many other manifestations of the Totonaca culture will play a prominent role in the festival.


The theme of Cumbre Tajin is La Revelacion de Lo Posible (Revealing What Is Possible) and, reflecting the festival’s strong emphasis on diversity, a different musical genre or style is broadly represented during each day of the 5-day festival.

cumbre tajin

Cumbe Tajin 2013 full lineup

Thursday has a chill singer-songwriter vibe, with Jack Johnson and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros headlining. Jack Johnson’s sun-and-surf anthems echoing off ancient pyramids is sure to be a good kickoff for the event, gently easing hordes of music-crazed fans into Cumbre Tajin’s distinct, musically-inclusive vibe.

Tool, Primus, Puscifer, Tomahawk, and Mexican band Vayijel play Friday, heavy bands that challenge classification, twisting metal, hard rock, progressive, funk, and jams into their own visions of musical madness.

The five bands of Saturday night, well known in the Spanish-speaking world, give a good introduction to the current state of Rock en Español. Los Amigos Invisibles from Venezuela incorporate Latin rhythms, funk, and electronica, while headliners Babasonicos from Argentina and Fobia from Mexico play more straight-ahead rock.

Los Amigos Invisibles:

Sunday is international DJ day, with Afrojack (Holland), Nervo (Australia), the Crystal Method (U.S.), Samantha Ronson (U.K.), and The Wookies (Mexico).

The final night, Monday, has the most diverse mix of bands, featuring both legends and newcomers from distinct genres of Latin music.

Jenny and the Mexicats mix rock with folk, flamenco, and rockabilly, while Los Angeles Negros from Chile, a classic group founded in 1967, play smooth big-band ballroom ballads.

Finally, closing out the festival are Mexican superstars Banda el Recodo. Mexican Banda music, full of horns and passionate singing, is the popular style that you most often hear on Mexican radio. Its cultural – though not musical – equivalent north of the border would be country music.

Banda el Recodo:

I’ll be headed to Cumbre Tajin in a week to volunteer as an English/Spanish interpreter. For a full review of the festival, and to find out whether or not I get to meet my childhood heroes Les Claypool, Adam Jones (Tool), and Mike Patton (Tomahawk, formerly Mr. Bungle and Faith No More), please check back.

About Ted Campbell

U.S./Canadian writer, translator and professor in Mexico. Travel stories and practical tips on my blog No Hay Bronca: // Twitter: @NoHayBroncaBlog // Contact: nohaybroncablog (at)

Posted on March 8, 2014, in Mayan Ruins, Mexico, Music, Travel, Travel in Mexico and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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