Been reading the book “White Riot… Punk Rock and the Politics of Race” for the past few weeks. I’m almost finished and more on it later. It’s an intense book that is proving to be valuable in terms of the history of punk and of getting another perspective than the typical Ramones, Sex Pistols, Clash history we so often are told over and over and over. I’ve got a lot to say about this book, mostly good, with a few criticisms, but for now I just want to bring to your attention an all Latino punk band from Chicago in the 1990s “Los Crudos”.
They were one of, if not the first U.S. punk band to sing almost 100% in Spanish, though as you can see form this clip, they also spoke fluent English. Also, as you can tell by the clip they are (surprise) very political and as you can tell by the short, burst of lyrics that are hard to understand regardless of language, very hardcore.
Not my favorite genre of punk music so I would have probably never stumbled upon these guys with pandora or ipod or any of that type of music had these guys come along a decade or so later. Yet their perspective as their self proclaimed “We’re that spic band” probably would have landed them on “American Latino TV” or “LatiNation” alongside NOFX, Tiger Army, Calavera, Madball, No Way Joseand any other semi-well known punk, pysychobilly or rockabilly hand that had a decent Latin following.
I was always trying so hard to counteract the popular notion that Latinos only cared about R&B, Rap, Hip Hop and “Latin” (Cumbia, Meringue, Salsa, etc.) music. We tried really hard to showcase underground communities where Latinos were so instrumental and that includes punk which, if you’ve been following us for a while, has a huge Latin American and American Latino (U.S. Latino) following as well as a history of participation.
Punk history is rich with Latinos in the scene including bands like Black Flag, Iggy & The Stooges and many, many more I won’t go into here today.
When I Executive Produced those shows, I was very involved in getting our producers to target these subcultures very strategically, covering not only bands but events like “The Warped Tour” and “Viva Las Vegas”from a U.S. Latino perspective and it worked beautifully.
Not only did I feel good about representing this ignored part of Latino culture, ratings in cities from California to Texas increased dramatically. We had successfully added to our following which was really important for a small, indie TV Show with no marketing budget to speak off airing in most of the country in the most fringe of late night or early morning weekend time periods.
Now, sadly, and predictably the new owners and producers have cheezed it up again. The shows look like a cheap version of TMZ, with nothing but pop culture after pop culture references. They even changed the show logos and theme music to gaudy, loud metallic purple and silver colors and cheeze ball electronica music.
But hey, the shows are in their 11th & 9th seasons respectively so I understand that change is inevitable. It’s ok. There are a couple of people there that do try to represent (Agnostic Frontwere featured last season and one of the editors is from the Colombian band “La Pestilencia”).
In the meantime, I leave you with a couple of videos of “Los Crudos”. I would sure like to interview these guys for “Punktology”documentary. If anyone knows how to get in touch with them, please hit me up.
It happened so fast. One minute I’m in the middle of the tourist zone packed with people, the next I take a turn down a not too dimly lit and not so isolated street and notice 2 sketchy characters coming my way. I decide to head the other direction and then notice 2 other sketchy characters heading my way from that direction. Then a couple others emerge out of the shadows. Yup, I’m getting surrounded.
It’s 9 pm on a Tuesday night in Plaza Foch, the main tourist zone for restaurants and hostels in Quito’s Zona Rosa. I’ve been in Quito less than 3 hours.
Quito is a punk city
My camera is out but I try to hide it inside of my hoodie. Too late. Before I know it I’m in what seems like a life or death struggle for the camera with some guy dressed all in green (almost like surgeon’s scrubs, we’ll call him aqua man) yelling unintelligible Spanish .
All I can think of is how I screwed up and I need this camera for the rest of the shoot and aqua man is trying to take my camera and God knows what else and ruin my night, indeed the whole trip before it even gets started.
Quito is a beautiful city
I’m thinking “Tonight is my first night in Ecuador for God’s sake. I haven’t shot a frame video and just a few stills.”
I scream out “no way man! no f**ing way”.. as I struggle with aqua man. I feel my groin muscle pull and I realize I’ve just re-injured my groin that took me 3 months to heal from. I hear a ripping noise, it’s my hoodie.
Having known what it feels like to be robbed in Argentina just over a year ago, I wasn’t anxious to relive that experience.
Next I feel a couple more hands on me as another dude tries to grab me from behind. I’m waiting for the inevitable pummeling at the hands of the other guys. 6 on 1, should be an easy task for them but I figure I’ll make it as hard as possible and try to hurt somebody at least.
I start to yell louder, “Policia!!!!” “Robbery!!!” whatever pops into my head and now at the top of my lungs. I sound and probably look crazy and it starts to work.
Quito is a fun city
People start to come out of their houses and businesses. But no one does a damned thing. I’m thinking that these cowards are going to sit and watch me get robbed and not lift a finger!? Now I’m really pissed and start to fight back harder. I want to punish somebody.
Aqua man and I swing around a couple more times, then he finally lets go, now completely ripping my hoodie in the process.
Miraculously they ALL walk away and now, my camera firmly in my hands, lens cap on the street and my hoodie in shreds around my waist I scream at them.. “puta madre” (mother f**er)! The “F” word, The “C’ word, it all comes flowing out like I have tirets’ syndrome. It’s in English and Spanish as low as I can go on the vocabulary scale and as high as I can go on the volume scale. No translation needed.
Quito is a political city
It all lasted maybe 30 seconds? Maybe 45? who knows, but I feel victorious and primal and yes, it feels strangely good. Like a warrior who vanquished his enemies. “Hell no, not tonight! Go get some more help bitches!”. I’m really pumped up now and ready to kill somebody. I’ve gone from scared to pissed, I mean really dangerously angry in a matter of seconds. I was ready now, lets do this.. why are they walking away now? This is just getting good!
A crowd has now gathered as the wanna be thieves trot and then slow to a walk and stroll away like nothing had happened. They are walking away and no one is doing anything? Finally 10 minutes later some police came by while some nice concerned locals tell the cops what happened and try to translate my Spanish which is worse than normal because of the adrenaline. I’m sure they were wondering if this Gringo might be a touch loco? The police shake their head, tell me it’s very “peligrosa” and to be careful and drive away.
Quito is a dangerous city
By now I am laughing at the incident, happy as a clam that my camera is still in my possession and that I won’t be feeling like a total loser tomorrow because my camera was stolen the first night of a shoot. I’m happy that all I have is a ripped, cheap hoodie, a re-pulled groin muscle and a story to tell for my trouble. No black eye, no bloody nose, no stab wound, no gun shot wound. I have my camera, my phone and my wallet and I start to feel really fortunate.
But I’m also concerned. The pack of thugs walked away but are possibly still around and I think it wise to return to where people and police are more numerous so I head back to the main area of the Plaza where I am supposed to meet and interview the guys from Sikotikos (Psychotics), a local punk band at 9:30.
Incredibly, it’s now only 9:15. Time was crawling by. I still have 15 minutes to kill. I was in this dire situation because I had finished dinner early and wanted to get some stills of some punk graffiti I had seen on some of the side streets on the ride in from the airport.
Quito is a Sikotikos city
In just a few hours in Quito, I had already seen several punks, anarchy graffiti, rocker bars, etc. I already knew Quito is a big punk town but I wanted to grab a few stills to help me tell the story, My little digi hand held camera I normally use in these situations is broken so hence my big, expensive Cannon D12, the one I use for video, was out and snapping away.
At this point, I’m back in the main tourist area and I’m still pretty shaken and thinking of grabbing a beer to calm my nerves when I see 3 of the guys walking in the distance. There he is, Mr. Agua Man walking by like not a care in the world.
My first instinct is to go and confront. Then I think better of it and run to the police who are nearby. They bolt into action and before I know it the 3 cats are assuming the position, taking off socks and shoes and being searched and sadly, slapped around a little by a now fired up police force that includes a couple under covers who seem to know this pack of hoodlums all too well.
I’m still pissed so I look the guys in the eyes and say “Recuerdes me!? (Remember me?).. I show the guy my ripped hoodie and say “Recuerdes este” (Remember this?).. I say something like “Seis en uno no mano y mano eh?” (6 on 1 not 1 on 1 huh?) in my broken ass, tarzan Spanish and regret yet again at not being able to express myself adequately in Spanish.
Now surrounded by police and onlookers, they looked much smaller and more pathetic now. I start to feel a twinge of guilt and sympathy for these guys. Of course they are dirt poor and a couple look to be immigrants. Five of the six attackers were black, usually the poorest of the poor in Ecuador which is pretty damned poor to begin with.
Moments ago I wanted to kill them, now I’m sorry that I brought this misery on them by flashing an expensive camera all for the sake of a few pics for this blog. Of course they brought it on themselves but still… I feel bad. But for the grace of God could our situations be reversed? Who would be an angel if they are hungry or addicted? Why did I stupidly put that temptation out there?
To my right I see 3 punks taking in the scene among the crowd that has gathered. It’s the guys from Sikotikos. They recognize me. I had described my wardrobe so I was easy to spot, but I guess they weren’t expecting me to be in the middle of a police bust. What can I say, I wasn’t exactly expecting that either.
After the police excused me and told me once again to be careful, I shook their hands, thanked them and walked off with Sikotikos to do the interview. They told me they knew of these guys, that they see them around all the time and that last week they robbed someone they know and beat him up really badly.
I was lucky and I know it by now. Adrenaline or not, one knife point, one gun, one brick to the head and it’s all over. This is my third robbery attempt since traveling to Latin America the last 10 years (only one was successful and that one was completely non violent). Though in each event situation I can point to a careless situation on my part, it’s starting to get old.
I’m beginning to wonder when am I gonna get unlucky and get the knife or gun or whatever pulled on me.
If i keep traveling, it will happen again I know it. May as well get prepared.
Sikotikos got my back.
In the meantime my interview with Sikotikos was an admittedly jittery affair. I kept looking over my shoulder during the interview to assure myself the pack of thieves weren’t back. Only 3 of the 6 were in custody and for all I knew had been released and were out for revenge. I tried to focus.
While Sikotikos answers were almost all in Spanish I was able to comprehend from the guys that the punk scene in Quito, is as I expected, pretty damned strong.
They are playing in a big punk show this weekend with 15 other bands, and I’m really pissed I’m going to miss it but alas I’ll be in Banos working on my other project, the one I’m really here to work on, Raw Travel.
The guys were cool enough to give me a funny little shout out that went something like “We’re Sikotikos from Quito, Ecuador and don’t ever try to rob the Punk Outlaw!” Thanks fellaz!
Wish we could have spent more time together. I can tell you Sikotikos are some cool cats who promised to have my back should the robbers show up again.
Oh and they play some pretty sweet punk music, check out their myspace page. They’ll have a new CD dropping soon so stay tuned on that information as well.
I have a couple more punk interviews set up between now and when I leave Quito, so stay tuned for that as well.
Oh yeah.. Really sorry about that misleading headline, since I actually didn’t get robbed (nope they didn’t get a thing but arrested). But I can’t let a good robbery attempt go to waste can I?
I mean, “Almost Robbed in Quito” Just doesn’t have the same ring to it does it?
So we kick things off with our first coverage of a punk concert for 2011 and I’m happy to say it was for a good cause.
Our friend Kmilo helped organize the event which requested that punks bring notebooks for school kids who couldn’t afford them. From the looks of the number of notebooks collected, it was a big success and there will be some happier school kids in Medellin this semester.
Lots of good local bands played which included a bit of hardcore mixed in with the mostly classic punk bands, like our good buddies Lokekeda. Kamal and Sundara from Los Suziox, played in their respective side projects and I saw some old friends, some I hadn’t seen the Casualties show back in December 2009.
It was an all ages show (aren’t they all in Colombia?) and was held in Barrio Milagrosa which wasn’t “peligrosa” (dangerous) at all that I could tell. Security checked bags for liquor, beer, etc. so it was a fairly laid back as punk shows go.
But that didn’t dampen the spirit of the crowd which formed a nice pit that threw me around occassionaly while taking pics and video in front of the stage.Video will be coming soon but in the meantime, you can enjoy some photos from the show below.
If you enjoy those, remember to visit our FLIKR Page here for a plethora of punk pics. Enjoy!
The Alta Voz Punk Festival went down this past Saturday in Medellin, Colombia in a park near the University of Medellin. It was a beautiful day for an outdoor festival, not too hot and most importantly, no rain!
I arrived around 3:30 pm with my amigos from Los Suziox (The Dirty), who were scheduled to play around 7PM. We got there just in time to hear hardcore punk band “Desercion” (Desertion) play and the pit was already working overtime with young punks throwing their bodies around to the beat of the music.
I spent most of my time backstage giving out stickers and t-shirts or out in the crowd taking pics and video of the “faces of punk” in Medellin, Colombia.
Faces of Punk - Medellin
The crowd’s anticipation was palpable when Los Suziox hit the stage around 7:20pm and delivered a fast and furious set that had the crowd waving “Los Suziox” banderas and chanting “Otra, Otra, Otra” after the set.
Los Suziox (the Dirty)
I stuck around to watch one more band, “No Comply” which was a a rap/hardcore fusion and then headed back to my hotel.
Los Suziox Fan
It was a free show and part of an entire weekend of free concerts put on by the government of Medellin and I have to tell you I was impressed by the organization (everything ran on time) of the event. There was no out of control behavior that I witnessed and all in all it was as organized as any music festival you could find in the U.S. with the perfect balance of security vs. allowing people to have a good time. Something they seem to miss in the U.S. so often (SEE MY POSTS AND ACCOMPANYING COMMENTS ON THE RECENT SOCIAL DISTORTION SHOW IN LONG ISLAND, NYC).
Faces of Punk - Girls
I took LOTS and LOTS of pics, so if you want to see the entire set be sure and visit our FLIKR PAGE HERE.
I’ll also have some video from the event with Desastre Capital and Los Suziox Video up soon, so stay tuned!
July 10th, 2010 – Castilla, Sin Armas (Disarm) / Medellin, Colombia
This was my first time being on stage with Los Suziox as they played live and what a trip it was. The view from the stage of the crazed fans, the circle pit and the rain pouring down the whole time was pretty intense.
Everyone was yelling out for their favorite song in the brief pauses between performances, but Andres and the gang kept things moving pretty fast, ripping through 10 or so songs, including some of my favorites like “Revoluccion” (Revolution), “Armas Silenciosas” (Silent Arms) and this little ditty “Perfeccion” (Perfection) which I recorded with my flip cam.
I have some great High Def video from the evening which I shot with my Sony HD cam so I hope to have even more video of the evening up pretty soon, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this excellent punk band from Medellin, Colombia… Los Suziox!
Yeah, I know, this is supposed to be about the BIG, and I do mean, almost too BIG, Rock en el Parque (Rock in the Park) 3 day festival going on in Bogota, Colombia right now. And I did hit it, hard, early til late and was duly impressed… but it was Metal Day yesterday. Hard core, cram the mic down your throat and make animal noise metal and I just don’t dig or get that music, but evidently some 30,000 Colombians do, so who am I to judge?
But Punk Outlaw is not about the metal scene, though I recognize the connection. I just don’t feel I have enough material to give Rock en El Parque a good solid review yet, so I’m gonna hold off until after today when they have some punk and ska bands playing.
Instead, I’m gonna tell you about something infinitely more exciting (to me at least) which was a punk show close to downtown Bogota which went from 4pm in the afternoon yesterday and was still going strong when I left this morning around 1AM Bogota time.
I met my amigos from the excellent Medellin punk band and the show’s headliners “Los Suziox” at their hostal in the La Candelaria (historical downtown) area of Bogota around 8pm and we headed over to the show around 9pm.
If you’ve never been to Bogota, La Candelaria is where you want to stay if you are there to appreciate authentic Bogota culture. Or if culture means nothing to you, stay in Zona Rosa and hang among the more upscale Rollos (people from Bogota) and have restaurants and nightlife at your fingertips (but be prepared to drop more $).
Quevado area of La Candelaria, Bogota
We taxied over to the venue which was easy to spot because of the numerous folks with mohawks, spiked and colored hair hanging out. My amigo, Jorge, from ColombianPunk.com guided me into the venue safely which was accessed by a very narrow stairway and one tightly controlled, tiny door which led to the 2nd story party space.
Fire Codes? We Don't Need No Stinking Fire Codes!
It was crowded already and in violation of every U.S. (and probably Colombian) fire code you could think of. Trust me, I thought about that a few times during the night, making imaginary escape routes in my mind (using one of the two open windows and jumping if I were lucky enough to get to them w/o being trampled was the best I could think up). Luckily, I didn’t need a plan “b” for fire, but I did for other scenarios.
What can I say about the bands, I only got to witness two of them as the night felt completely unstructured, despite the printed up agenda. Los Suziox was scheduled to play at 10PM but by the time I left at 1AM or so, they were probably going to go on around 3 or 4AM at the earliest, if at all the way things were progressing.
The bands played as long as they wanted and that was cool with the crowd which amazed me with their pure intensity and stamina. How can they go 110% full force like that for hours and hours on end and not lose one ounce of intensity?
I know, I know there are going to be some jokes about “hey man it’s Colombia, there is a thing called cocaine” and yes, I’m sure that occurred for some folks but the vast majority, no. They were simply too damn drunk.
But among the incredibly intoxicated people were others who were drinking nothing stronger than water. Straight Edgers perhaps or perhaps like me just trying to keep their wits about them in this chaotic environment.
12 hours of intensity!
The ages varied wildly (from early teens to 40s maybe even 50s, who knows) but most of the crowd in their 20s and 30s I’d say. Mostly male but plenty of hard core females mixing up in the most violent punk pit I think I’ve ever witnessed and I’ve witnessed a few.
Jorge stuck with me for the first part of the night, guiding me back to where the bands played and what little bit of space there was for video taping the action. I had my big High Def Sony Camera with light kit, which was a good idea because the lighting was dim.
But it was simultaneously a bad idea because that camera looks AND is fairly expensive. I wasn’t fearing theft as much as I was fearing some over zealous punk ripping off the microphone or light kit, or probably more likely spilling beer or aquadiente (Colombian Liquor commonly referred to as “FireWater”) all over it.
Young Bogota Punk Fan
After about 3 hours of witnessing the madness that is called a punk show in Bogota, it became impossible to shoot with the big camera and I lowered my goals to simply protecting it (and me) from destruction.
I ended up shooting video with my small digital still camera my last hour or so. The following video is from some footage shot at the end of MY night from a band who, though I have no idea their name, played a good hour and half and as you can see, the crowd’s enthusiasm didn’t wane a bit.
I love punk music, the punk lifestyle and in general, get along with punks I’ve met from all over the world. But there is something truly special and unique about the punk scene in Latin America and in particular Colombia. The intensity and the length of the intensity just can’t be matched. At first, it’s very intimidating environment. But later, many punks come up to you and ask questions about why you are there and some to even take photos with the visiting “Gringo” with the camera and to welcome you to their world.
All in all the punks in Bogota were very welcoming and friendly and if I spoke Spanish better, I’m sure I’d have made even better connections. But after it became plain I was no longer going to be able to shoot and the camera was in danger, I decided it was best to go find my friends from Colombian Punk and Los Suziox.
For about 20 minutes, I made my way from the front of the room to the one and only back entrance, with the camera taking a beating. Throughout the night I had seen quite a few people I had interviewed before (Johnny, AKA Finnish Punk, who made the trip from Cali, Colombia) and several others from the Casualties show back in December, but now no friends or familiar faces were to be found.
Navigate your way out of this Gringo!
It felt like I was getting shoved on purpose a bit. My imagination working overtime? Maybe. The video backpack is massive and makes me feel like I’m the clumsiest dude on the planet, knocking people in the head when I turn to the left or right. “Permiso” (permission please), “Disculpe me” (excuse me), “Lo Siento” (I’m Sorry) all Spanish phrases I’m very familiar with.
On the way down the winding, slick and crowded stairs to the one and only exit, I became a hair’s breadth from tumbling the whole way down and destroying the camera (and me in the process) all by myself.
I would have too had there not been some gnarly, mean looking punks at the bottom who were trying to leave (or enter, I couldn’t tell) who unintentionally stopped my reckless descent. They were so drunk, I don’t think they felt a thing, or at least I was silently hoping so.
Check the ear ring
Now I was in a mass of bodies trying to squeeze through a narrow door to the street. It was “no go” as the bodyguard was turning people back, not from entering but FROM LEAVING!
I started to panic. You mean I can’t leave? Now I’m really starting to get claustrophobic and for sure this camera is getting destroyed. There was definitely a shove in the back now, no imagination necessary.
There was more intense pushing and shoving, some cursing in Spanish and I had no idea what was going on or when or if I was getting out of there. I tried calling my amigos on my cell, No Signal! WTF?
Finally, after like 10 minutes of this, I made my way to the bouncer who remembered me. I told him I had to leave, had to go home and he let me out, wishing me a very polite “Buenos Noches” (Good Night).
My relief out on the street lasted all of 5 seconds because now I see it is no longer packed with people like when I first entered the show 3 hours ago. It was now deserted except for a few solitary stragglers hanging in the numerous shadows.
I’ve probably been to Colombia over a dozen times and never had one single issue. But I’ve never tempted fate before and this was not a good place for an obvious gringo (or anyone for that matter) with expensive camera gear in tow. There was no sign of Jorge or Los Suziox and what the hell is wrong with this cheap cell phone I bought?
Sing along to all the songs..
Everyone, it seemed had suddenly been shuttled inside and that explained why it had suddenly gotten so crowded that I couldn’t shoot video.
I broke down the camera and stuffed it in my backpack as quickly as possible and set about finding a taxi, expecting a knife or gun at my back at any moment. I cursed myself for leaving my passport and emergency cash in the backpack like a rookie instead of at the hotel room.
I’ll admit I’m much more paranoid about theft these days after being robbed in Buenos Aires. Though that was a non violent kind of thing, I now get in taxis much more cautiously and am just plain wary of walking around with expensive equipment, but how else can I shoot? It has to be done. It’s a risk that must be taken. Punk Shows rarely happen in nice, rich, gringo infested, touristy areas and if they did, I’m not sure I’d want to go.
Walking to the street, I see a few, what I hope are policemen in the distance huddled around what looks like a body in the street. Hopefully drunk, not dead or injured but I couldn’t tell. I think this explains why everyone had gotten shuffled inside. The Bogota Police and the hardcore punks that make up the punk community in Bogota don’t get along. At the Casualties show in December, there was a full scale riot between the police and some punks outside the venue.
I didn’t want to get caught up in all this and spend the night in a Bogota jail or worse yet, walk away and get robbed. I needed a taxi quick! Finally I get one and now the only problem is I now had lost the business card to my hotel which is on the other end of town and Bogota is a BIG town with lots of hotels.
My hotel is Hotel Charlies Place, it’s a small but nice boutique hotel outside of the normal tourist zone. My taxi dude has never heard of it and as luck has it speaks no English and suddenly, my Spanish is MIA! What the hell?! It seems whenever I need to speak Spanish the best.. the most, it seems to abandon me.
Racking my brain, I didn’t know what to do but maybe go to an internet cafe (if they were still open at nearly 1am) and look up the address on the web or wander the streets of Bogota with, yes, I’m gonna say it once again, expensive ass camera equipment.
Taxi dude called his dispatcher and finally, we were able to determine the address of my hotel. Thankfully, at least I could recall the name probably because it’s so unusual (not too many hotels named Charlie) but there are times when the name is in Spanish and I can’t remember the name of my hotel for shit and just have the business card to remind me and show the taxi driver. I was lucky, this time.
Safely back to the sanity and solitude (sweet solitude and personal space) of my hotel room, I think back on the day; Rock en el Parque, hanging out with my old friends and making some new ones in the punk scene in Colombia.
Rock en el Parque was ok, more like controlled chaos. The Punk Show was nuts and most definitely uncontrolled chaos. And while I couldn’t live my life like that every day, uncontrolled chaos felt good for a while.
Life is crazy. We usually think we’re in control when really we are just one small reminder away from the painful realization that we most certainly are not. The punk show in Bogota felt like a celebration of that. Guttural, primitive and completely out of control.. I love it.
No camera, No Computer.. what to do? No choice but to calmly carry on and make the best of a changing situation. That changing situation got much easier thanks to a few folks in Montevideo’s punk scene, namely Camila from Rameras Punk, Cabeza from El Ultimo de los Ramones and the guys from Rudos Wild.
With Camila From All Girl Punk Band "Rameras Punk"
Early in the day, I head over to Clash City Rockers club to do the interview with Rudos Wild. Once again, Leonardo from Rudos agreed to let me use his camcorder.
Clash City Rockers Bar in Montevideo, Uruguay
Clash City Rockers is a great punk club, complete with punk memorabilia all over the walls including a signed Misfits poster from when the band visited Montevideo a few years back. This was the middle of the day, but I could tell from speaking with the owner Marcos and just by looking around this place was probably packed with punks on the weekend nights.
Marcos from Clash City Rockers
I went later that night and can testify, if you find yourself in Montevideo, finding a better place to let loose and hear some good punk or rockabilly music in Montevideo can’t be had.
The interview with Rudos Wild was raucous and fun, just as expected and I had a little time left on the camera so I went ahead and interviewed Marcos on the punk scene in Montevideo as well. I find punk bar owners are great interviewees to get a handle on the local punk scenes. They tend to see the scene as a whole and offer a broad historical perspective.
With Rudos Wild Post Interview
After Rudos Wild, I headed back to my apartment in Pocitos neighborhood where Camila and Cabeza met me. Cabeza had a Canon XL Camera that I had never used but we finally figured it out and we were able to knock out 3 big interviews in a row including the guys from Trotsky Vengaran (Trotsky’s Revenge), Buitres and finally Camila and Cabeza themselves.
Hearing bands like Trotsky Vengaran talk about the sacrifice and difficulty of playing in a small country like Uruguay made me appreciate the punk scene there even more.
With Trotsky Vengaran
Thanks to the DIY ethic of punk music and some really cool people, we were able to salvage the trip and I was able to document the punk scene in Montevideo despite losing the equipment to robbery just a few days earlier. In some ways, the challenge of the trip made it more rewarding and more fulfilling. Somehow, shooting with someone else’s borrowed camera under less than ideal conditions made me rethink the project and appreciate it more. I mean if people were willing to go to this much trouble to help out, the project must be worthwhile right?
Cabeza let us use his camera for interviews
Thanks again to everyone who helped out in Montevideo. Can’t wait to get back there soon. Next stop, Rudos Wild live in concert! Stay Tuned!
My final night in Buenos Aires could not have ended better than a concert with legendary punks “Dos Minutos”, complete with a backstage interview with lead singer “El Mosco”.
I had a little lost in translation mishap where I went to meet the band at the rehearsal space in downtown only to learn they had left for the concert in Palermo already. I finally, through the help of my translator, rockabilly queen Anita, was able to get over to the venue the Niceto Club and get backstage before their show began.
El Mosca On Stage
Backstage, things were quite different than rehearsal on Wednesday. The guys appeared to be drinking mostly water instead of beer and they seemed really focused on the show ahead.
Lead singer, El Mosca agreed to be interviewed and we went to a hidden spot backstage for some relative quiet, just as one of the first opening acts was winding up their set.
Backstage with El Mosca
El Mosca is a veteran punk and he filled me in on the long (since the 1980s!) and colorful history of Dos Minutos, including their 3 tours in the U.S. (which included stops at the legendary and now shuttered CBGBs), as well as the punk scene in general in Argentina.
Rockabilly queen Anita provided a couple moments of translation but El Mosca largely understood my English and at this point I was understanding Argentine Spanish much better so we were able to go back and forth pretty conversationally, which was refreshing.
Within 2 minutes of meeting him (pun completely intended) you can tell El Mosca is a pro and a really good guy. He graciously offered me to shoot whatever video I wanted of the show, so long as I bought him some beer next time he’s in NYC. I of course agreed.
One of the Opening Acts for Dos Minutos
The opening bands were pretty decent and by the time Dos Minutos hit the stage, the venue at Niceto Club was jam packed. I am bad at estimating crowds but I’d estimate over a thousand were in attendance and the venue was tightly run with no alcohol being served on the main level, so the crowd, enthusiastic and rowdy, was not drunk. Many bore 2 Minutos shirts, others Ramones, Rancid, Casualties, Manu Chau, etc.
I decided upon a perch on the 2nd floor balcony to shoot the videos and photos of the concert and man am I glad I did, I would have gotten destroyed! The entire 1st half of the ground floor was a pit of moshing, sweating, jumping, surfing bodies that moved all over the place. One thing about crowds in Latin America (and Latin crowds in the U.S.) is their enthusiasm.
When they really like a band, the let it show. They chant, they sing every word to every song and thy don’t let up until the concert is over usually chanting otra, otra, otra (another, another, another).
This hometown crowd loved Dos Minutos and I’m thankful I was able to witness it and get to know these guys just a little before heading on to the next part of my journey, Uruguay.
I’ll leave you with a short flipcam video from the concert and you can view more pics in the photo gallery. A featured segment on Dos Minutos will appear here in March or April, so stay tuned. Keep fighting! Keep rocking!
When I was down in Colombia for the big Casualties show back in December, I knew I’d get treated too some great punk music, what I didn’t know was that much of that music would be local talent singing in Spanish. Medellin Colombia has a rich, rich punk history due in no small part to their, ahem, “colorful” history in the 80s and 90s with Pablo Escobar’s drug empire, corrupt governments, the paramilitary and the guerrillas and the violence that ensued that gave Medellin the dubious distinction of the most violent city in the world in the 1990s.
I didn’t visit Colombia then and my first visit back in 2005 or 2006 was just after things had settled down and were markedly safer. I had done lots of research, had lots of Colombian-American friends who encouraged me to go but nonetheless was still very nervous my first visit.
Now I go often and don’t think twice, partly because I’ve been so many times and never had an issue and partly because I’ve traveled to so many more sketchier, more dangerous spots (Recife, Brazil or Lima, Peru anyone?) that Colombia seems tame by comparison. Colombia is a beautiful and relatively safe country these days and while it still has the occasional governmental scandal, it has one of the largest middle classes in Latin America. Medellin is one of the safest cities in all of Latin America and my favorite. The climate is excellent, the people (Paisas) are incredibly warm and friendly and trust me they know how to have a good time. Oh and need I mention again the excellent punk scene?
Tailgating before the Casualties show in Medellin, I met a band I had heard a little about even before I arrived called “Los Suziox”. Luckily for me and my rapidly deteriorating Spanish, they had a friend in from Toronto, Canada (Rony) who spoke English and served as my interpreter. We agreed to meet up later in the week so I could hear and video them practicing a set. Boy am I glad I did.
These guys are the real deal. If they were in the U.S. singing in English they would be touring constantly and putting out CDs every year or so. As it is, they do tour Latin America and have quite a following there and have put a few CDs as I understand it (I have one and it’s excellent).
This is not the first time I’ve heard some good music during my travels. Latin America has a much more international influence than the U.S. and they take their cues from Europe as well as the Americas. Even dance music, which I pretty much despise in the U.S., is absolutely tolerable and sometimes likeable in South America.
I’ll admit it may have something to do with the fact that I’m away from home, hyper sensitive to my new surroundings and stimuli but I think it’s more than that. I think the music in Latin America is less, they put out less music so it’s easier to find good stuff and the good stuff gets played more often. Also, they are not so into the “flavor of the month” (or week) as we are in the U.S. Different generations will play the classics as if they were their very own and it doesn’t seem to get stale like so much of the classic rock here in the U.S. (to me at least). I also hear old pop songs from the U.S. I haven’t heard in YEARS and I admit I like it as it triggers memories and forces me to think back where I was when I heard that song.. not just the same Led Zep, Who, AC/DC songs like they play on classic stations in the U.S. but songs that maybe barely cracked the top 40 over 20 years ago but you remember them, just barely and that is like tickling your brain, it feels good to try and remember.
But alas, back to Los Suziox. Below is a video of them performing “Armas Silenciosas” (Silent Arms?) at the studio in Medellin. I know its hard to hear a song for the first time and be hooked but listen to it the whole way through and see if you are hooked instantaneously on this melody like I was. I’ve been listening on my i-pod ever since getting back. It’s one of those songs I just play over and over and over. Take a look and a listen and let me know what you think (to hear more music or this song with a fuller sound quality you can visit their page at www.myspace.com/lxzx and visit their player).