Return Of The Dragon - Tijuana’s Dragon Rojo Metal Fest To Roar This Weekend

November 16, 2022, a year ago

By Benjamin Niebla

feature heavy metal dragon rojo metal fest

Return Of The Dragon - Tijuana’s Dragon Rojo Metal Fest To Roar This Weekend

Mexico is known for their love of metal music and loyal rabid fans of all genres and sub-genres. Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico is situated immediately south of San Diego, one of the finest cities in California and the United States. Both cities have been known to host rock and metal concerts going back decades.

Tijuana’s claim to fame had been Iguana’s Bar, the legendary Baja Party Palace 18 and over 1000 capacity club; who hosted rock and metal bands between 1989 and 1993 for a $15.00 US Dollar ticket price. A virtual history of future rock and metal legends played at the bar which included: Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Ramones, Accept, Mother Love Bone, Gwar, Bad Brains, Social Distortion, Soundgarden, Devo, Stray Cats, Nine Inch Nails, Dream Theater, Living Colour, Faith No More, Alice in Chains, Flotsam and Jetsam, Primus, The Damned, Great White, Anthrax, Green Day, The Offspring, Death, Bad Religion, NOFX, Fishbone, Sepultura, Rage Against The Machine, Tool, Slayer, Pearl Jam, Joan Jett, Nirvana, Hole, White Zombie, The Black Crowes, Junkyard, Helmet, Damn Yankees, Jackyl, GWAR, Sonic Youth, Rancid, VoiVod, LA Guns, Megadeth, Forbidden, Sanctuary, Carcass, Annihilator, Iggy Pop, Stone Temple Pilots, Izzy Stradlin, Henry Rollins Band, Circle Jerks and many others.

In recent years, large scale promoters and the Fronterizo Festival series in Tijuana once again brought high caliber A-list rock / metal bands such as: KISS, Guns N’ Roses, Scorpions, Megadeth, Anthrax, Mastodon, Testament, Queensryche, Ratt, Quiet Riot, Gojira, Suicidal Tendencies, Sepultura, Mago de Oz, and others.

With all this sudden new emphasis in bringing rock and metal bands into Tijuana, why would you not answer the call from the true underground metal fans in the area and establish and continue to build a metal festival empire in one of the world’s most travelled US / Mexico border city areas?

The 2nd annual Dragon Rojo Metal Fest will take place on November 19 and 20 at the Explanada del Estadio Chevron in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. A pre-party concert will be held on Friday, November 18, at the Dragon Rojo Bar in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico.

We spoke with Israel Pelayo, a member of the Dragon Rojo Metal Fest promoter team and booking agent who brings up to speed on the new rising festival catering to the true metal masses.

BraveWords: What reasons led to the creation of the Dragon Rojo Metal Fest in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico?

Pelayo: “The festival was created as an extension of the Dragon Rojo Rock Bar in Tijuana, the city's only rock & metal bar”, states Israel. “Owners Danny and Mario reached out to me to assist in creating the festival and mainly help with band bookings.”

BraveWords: What were the main objectives for starting the Dragon Rojo Metal Fest in Tijuana as well as future goals for the festival?

Pelayo: “Our initial thought was to have an international festival worthy of our city as Tijuana has been largely ignored as a metal destination for many years by touring bands. Seeing the success and great response from fans and bands alike in 2021 gave us the push to grow the festival into what we have organized for 2022. We plan to grow and hopefully become the best metal festival in Northwestern Mexico.”

BraveWords: What have been some of the major obstacles of putting such an event for the past 2 editions?

Pelayo: “The biggest challenge has been changing to a new location and expanding the size of the festival. We went from having 1 stage last year to having three stages this year and doubling the amount of bands. So, the logistics are a major challenge, but luckily we have managed everything accordingly.”

BraveWords: How is the current metal scene in Tijuana? What genres of metal music are the most popular ones in the city?

Pelayo: “Tijuana has a growing metal scene that has expanded greatly in the last 10 years. From what I have seen there is a majority of death metal bands and black metal that are more active locally. There is a great underground movement here that we wish to integrate into our festival as well.”

BraveWords: How safe is the city of Tijuana for metal fans coming to attend the festival from other cities in Mexico and the United States?

Pelayo: “Tijuana has narco related problems when it comes to safety, mainly due to drug dealers and that type of business and only in certain areas of the city. For the most part these things are few and far between when it involves tourists. Normally if you come to enjoy the music and have a few beers you will have the best time. I always tell my friends "If you don’t do it in your town and its illegal, don’t do it in TJ either". There are certain parts in the US where you don’t want to find yourself at night or trying to score dope, same in Tijuana.”

BraveWords: What personal accomplishments have you achieved in the short history of promoting / booking the Dragon Rojo Metal Fest?

Pelayo: “We were lucky enough to be able to host Krisiun and Nervosa for their only Mexico gigs of 2021, so we were very happy about that. The comradery that we saw between fans and the family atmosphere we witnessed was really something we are proud of. We were the only international metal festival in Latin America in 2021, so were very proud of that too.”

BraveWords: What artists are on your short / long list for future festival editions?

Pelayo: “We have several, but at least on my end I would love to have more European death bands at our fest. Bands like Dismember, Benediction. Maybe a band like Helloween as well.”

BraveWords: Why do metal fans need to attend the 2022 edition of the Dragon Rojo Metal Fest?

Pelayo: “Tijuana has been known for years as the biggest party city in the west, in many aspects it still is and we wish to make it the biggest metal city in Mexico. This year’s edition offers a killer line up of all genres of metal, craft beer and fine food. It’s a 100% family experience for all ages and a welcoming inclusive vibe that can only be found here in Mexico.”

Find out more at

2021 Dragon Rojo Metal Fest Rockumentary:

The first and only heavy metal fest held in all of Latin America during 2021. Headlined by Nervosa and Krisiun. Also on the bill Thy Antichrist, Transmetal, Witherfall, Anna Fiori, Strike Master and special participation by Katon W. Pena of Hirax among many other bands.

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