How Cultura Helps La Murga de Austin Create Electric Q2 Stadium Experience
Soccer players and fans credit the atmosphere at the Q2 stadium as one of the big reasons the team ended last year's season as the No. 2 team in the western conference and had the opportunity to go to the playoffs. As Austin FC gears up for the upcoming regular season, which starts Feb. 25 and runs through Oct. 21, the La Murga band collective plans to bring the fútbol fire that’s ignited both players and fans.
In two years, Austin went from not having a Major League Soccer (MLS) team to having one of the most electric environments in the league. One big reason?La Murga de Austin, the Austin band collective that energizes soccer fans with chants, drums, and overall enthusiasm, creating an atmosphere that no opponent wants to face.
During last year’s regular season, Austin FC lost only three of their 16 home games. Players and fans credit the atmosphere at the Q2 Stadium as one of the big reasons the team ended the season as the No. 2 team in the western conference and had the opportunity to go to the playoffs.
As Austin FC gears up for the upcoming regular season, which starts Feb. 25 and runs through Oct. 21, La Murga plans to once again bring the fútbol fire that’s ignited both players and fans.
At every home game, Zaíra Pérez plays the surdo (a large bass drum) for La Murga. She, like other bandmates, arrived at this group without knowing how to play an instrument. Today, not only is she a soccer fan, but she’s also discovered an appreciation for music and playing the drums during the games. She’s eager to keep supporting Austin FC with the group’s chants and unwavering energy because like other La Murga members, it’s about more than just supporting a team - it's a passion.
"To me, just being here and playing while watching the games is just a whole different emotion. I know for the most part, if there’s something on the field that gets us upset, we drum ever harder. It’s just a way of expressing our feelings, emotions, while enjoying a game that we obviously support and love,” Pérez says in Spanish.
La Murga has been in the works since the team's announcement in 2019. It first started as a small group of members who gathered to play and has grown to more than 80 members. This all-volunteer band, with professional and amateur musicians, content creators, photographers, and videographers, dedicate their time to rehearsing weekly to put on a stellar show at every game at Q2 Stadium. Rigoberto Rodríguez, one of the group's founding members, said he believes that this is something that makes them stand out among other MLS supporting groups.
"We want La Murga to be a collective of people that come and share some time together, socialize, create music, create things for the love of the sport," Rodríguez says.
The group aims to represent the community of Austin, the live music capital, as well as the biculturalism of the city. La Murga boasts members with roots from Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, the U.S. and Germany, allowing the band to infuse different soccer customs and generate a multicultural atmosphere that’s closer to the traditions of Latin America and Europe. But La Murga gets to do it in Austin, the city that unites them all.
"We're lucky to be in Austin because there's so many creatives, and I think that's one of our secrets,” Rodríguez says.
The group has a repertoire of chants and songs in English and Spanish that aim to bring the city together in support of the club. They also base their songs on existing melodies from different soccer culture elements. Perez's favorite, for example, is based on a Mexican Netflix show about soccer called"Club de Cuervos."She likes this song not only because the surdos have the leading role, but because of the tradition behind the song. When “Cuervos” begins, all of the fans in the supporter section exchange hugs and toss their drinks into the sky, showering the stands. This tradition might not be common in the U.S., but it infuses some Latin American culture in the stadium.
“Fans are crazy,” Daniel Pereira, Austin FC midfielder says in Spanish. “The other players who come from Latin America say that the stadium is like a South American stadium with the noise, flying beer, flares, and smoke. You do feel the Latino in Austin."
From the south end of the stadium — the supporters’ section — the Murga's drums can be heard during every home game. The stadium is illuminated with green lights, flags wave through the air filled with green smoke, chants can echo, and a party atmosphere envelops the entire Q2 Stadium and the players themselves.
"When I'm there, time flies. That 90 minutes seems like it's 10 minutes to me." says Corey Leith, an Austin FC fan. "There's always something going on. There are flags going on, songs are sung, people are very excited themselves, and I'm excited too."
Austin FC fans who are not part of La Murga look forward to their performance even before the game starts. Some, like Leith, join the band at Hopsquad, their pre-game bar of choice.
"That's why we go there because even before the game starts, they're playing music, getting everyone excited for the game, and then we follow them to the stadium," Leith says. "They are working their butts off to ensure people are engaged."
The group's hard work has paid off beyond the stands and Austin FC Head Coach Josh Wolff has praised the role of the fans and the importance of playing in the playoffs at home.
For La Murga members, the energy goes both ways; players feed off the fans' support, and La Murga de Austin feeds off their passion on the field.
Pereira, the midfielder, says there is nothing like playing at home. "It is like having fifty percent of the victory guaranteed."
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