Alex Smith ’27, gains valuable live event experience at P’al Norte festival in Mexico

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Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024

Alex Smith, a Foundation student in the Live Experience Design & Production major, had worked a couple of music festivals before. 

But his recent week at the P’al Norte festival in Mexico, “seeing it all in action, the actual ‘we have to go live now’ experience” was on a different level altogether. For six days Smith had the chance not only to shadow industry professionals, but also to gain some hands-on experiences, working behind the scenes on the festival’s stages. 

“Meeting with everyone at a higher level and watching them work on (the festival) at that level … getting the chance to work hands-on at something like this, with everyone being so super open and nice” has confirmed his interest in pursuing live experience as a career, Smith said. 

Victor Gutiérrez, production manager of the Tecate P’al Norte festival, wrote on LinkedIn that opening up opportunities such as Smith’s experience is a win for the live event industry, too. 

“Transmitting our knowledge to the youngest strengthens” the live event field, Gutiérrez shared. “Tecate Pal Norte will continue looking to support new talent, raising awareness, mentoring, and helping exemplary human beings who enjoy the work and life of our industry.”

Smith was chosen to travel to P’al Norte after working last semester at THE Conference, an event that brings in to Rock Lititz an international contingent of nearly 1,000 live event professionals. His participation was made possible through a grant from 333 Limitless Foundation, which was established by Ryan Aviation Group. The opportunity also was made possible through the innovative degree program partnership PCA&D has with The Academy of Live Technology (ALT) at Rock Lititz.

Alex Smith ’27 talking with industry pros at work backstage at the P’al Norte festival.

The festival

Tecate P’al Norte is a six-day event featuring nine stages and nearly 90 artists. Along with huge activations sponsored by corporations, said Marisa Rinchiuso, “so many components of live events are present, from a design/draft/build perspective — it’s so much more than the concert or event itself.”

Rinchiuso, who traveled with Smith to P’al Norte, serves as Project & Operations Manager for ALT at Rock Lititz. She says the experience allowed Smith to gain hands-on experience at a rarified level of concert events, that included performers such as blink-182, Peso Pluma, Imagine Dragons, and Sum 41. 

The opportunity to work at an international festival, she added “is a very cool factor” that has resulted from the PCA&D/ALT partnership. 

Looking back on the week-long experience, Smith agreed. 

The long days (and nights) were, he said, completely worth it. 

“To get actual on-the-ground experience” while still a college student, and to watch industry professionals work around language barriers and with competing needs, actually expanded his interest in live experience design and production. 

“I’d definitely recommend to other students that they take advantage” of opportunities such as this offered by PCA&D-ALT,” he said, “as long as they know what they’re getting into and are prepared to take it seriously.”

Top photo: Alex Smith ’27, Live Experience Design & Production, on a stage of the Tecate P’al Norte festival in Monterrey, Mexico.