Joshua Tehee

He’s young. He’s awkward. And he’s selling out clubs

Omar Banos releases and plays music under the name Cuco. In the past year the 19-year old has become a heartthrob​ among young Latina girls in Southern California.
Omar Banos releases and plays music under the name Cuco. In the past year the 19-year old has become a heartthrob​ among young Latina girls in Southern California.

Omar Banos seems awed by the way his life has turned out.

After all, here’s a 19-year-old Chicano kid who left college to release songs on Bandcamp. He’s awkward in crowds and intimidated by most human interaction.

He’s also a super buzzworthy musician.

Noisey called him a wunderkind.

The Los Angeles Times said he’s a budding superstar, even if he doesn’t dress the part.

“Tall, bespectacled and boyish, at lunch he wore loose-fitting, two-tone retro sweat pants, a black, long-sleeved T-shirt and a brown corduroy cap. His low-key, amiable demeanor was as casual as his wisp of a mustache,” it wrote in a profile last year.

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Cuco is headlining a spring tour. Several shows are already sold out, including his Feb. 19 stop at Strummer’s in Fresno.

Even without a record label, Banos, who records and performs under the name Cuco, has a loyal fan base (of mostly Latina girls), a spot at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival and his own headlining tour, which stops Monday at Strummer’s. The show is already sold out.

Banos didn’t see any of this coming.

“I never planned on that, honestly, dude,” he says in a phone interview while on his way to the studio this week. “My whole intent of making music was never to make it big.”

In fact, he’s not too keen on all the attention he’s been getting lately. He has anxiety when he’s in crowds, which is tough because he can get unexpectedly swarmed by people these days. That’s exacerbated by the fact he never wants to make his fans feel uncomfortable trying to meet him.

It’s something he’s working on, he says.

Not that being a buzz-worthy heartthrob isn’t without perks. Like, clothing companies will send him free stuff to wear.

That’s his favorite.

“It’s dope,” he says.

He’s also been able to help his parents.

As a first-generation Mexican-American, helping support his family has always been a goal.

“When you come here, you want to give your kids better opportunities,” Banos says. “As first-generation, you want to be able to help out.”

He says his parents worked hard to make sure he had everything he needed growing up. That allowed him to take chances, like dropping out of college to make music with only the hope that it might one day have some kind of payoff.

“And it did and I’m grateful for that,” he says.

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee

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