¡¡LIBERTAD!!/ELECTRIC PUSS/DEATHDAY PARTY/BRANCHLESS TREE/YAOH/CUAUHTÉMOC/OVER THE COUNTER INTELLIGENCE
GARDEN GROVE YOUTH DROP-IN CENTER
SATURDAY, OCT. 12
How good could an anti-Columbus Day show review be without some of ol' Chris's accomplishments? Here's a good'un! "[The Spaniards] made bets as to who would slit a man in two or cut off his head at one blow, or they opened up his bowels. They tore the babes from their mother's breast by their feet and dashed their heads against the rocks. . . . They spitted the bodies of other babes, together with their mothers and all who were before them, on their swords."
Columbus Day! Yay!
The Garden Grove Youth Drop-In Center's all-Chicano concert was supposed to conclude a day of remembrance that included a protest at Mission San Juan Capistrano (home of our own racist conquistador bastard Junipero Serra) and a workshop on Columbus' murderous ways. But ¡¡Libertad!! made me wish the Spaniards had finished the job. Their set was like the winner of a second-grade talent show, with off-beat drums, stumbling bass and keyboards tinnier than a empty can of corn. Maybe ¡¡Libertad!!'s drummer wanted to redeem himself because he sang lead for the next band, Electric Puss. Their set was rollicking—the type of furious music that referenced the spirit of the Ramones. But the drummer and guitarist were so painfully skinny their punishing playing probably resulted in some compound fractures. And once again, no mention of Killer Chris. And Deathday Party's screeches insulted the memory of 100 million dead: so, lead guitarist, exactly what relevance does whipping your instrument with a strap have with history's biggest butchering? And Branchless Tree played fine, except their apolitical, Hives-derived music continued the vendido farce. But OC's Chicano punk groups followed, and they were pissed no one seemed to give a fuck about the day at hand.
First came Yaoh, who sobered the mood with his thoughtful rhymes. Yaoh's like Mos Def: his words are more important than his beats. The crowd stayed silent. Next was Cuauhtémoc, who reminded everyone of the responsibility that comes with attending any anti-Columbus Day event.
"This isn't a celebration," lead singer Coyotl said with a snarl. "Our hearts are heavy today. We want all of you to understand that our music is a hook so you can learn the revolution we've known since birth. Not the birth from our mothers, but of our conscience."
Coyotl and co-singer Mexica then blasted into "¡Alerta! ¡Alerta!" The crowd snapped out of its complacent mindset and exploded with such revolutionary zeal the Youth Center people stopped the concert. "No moshing!" they made Cuauhtémoc tell the audience. No matter: at the band's urging, the fans jumped around for the next half-hour. If the Aztecs had these warriors during the Spanish Invasion, Cortés would have sailed back to Extremadura. Over the Counter Intelligence was up next, and it only took two songs to start a riot. Fans rushed the stage, ripped the mic from Andre Sandoval, and shoved him into the new mosh pit. Guitarist Matt Martínez promptly dropped his guitar and joined. More people joined as the Drop-In Center people's commands to cease playing went unheeded. Finally, they pulled the electricity—show over. But you can't pull the plug on revolution! (Gustavo Arellano)
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Photo by Luis Sarmiento
EL CENTRO CULTURAL DE SANTA ANA
SATURDAY, OCT 5
On a recent Saturday night, several members of Los Cojolites were late to play for a standing-room-only crowd. But they were grinning anyway: their tardiness was due to a date in Los Angeles with actress Salma Hayek. Los Cojolites—a band with a constantly changing lineup and countless unofficial members, many of them mere toddlers—is a product of the Veracruz-based Center for Documentation and Research of the Son Jarocho. For the past six years, the center has been trying to preserve regional Mexican culture by training local children how to play son jarocho, a mixture of indigenous Mexican and African folk music.
For a bunch of guarijos playing ampless acoustic music, Los Cojolites whipped up a storm of beautiful, loud, often lightning-fast music. Three of them let their fingers fly on a trio of eight-string jaranas, Noé Gonzáles ripping so hard he broke a string and had to switch instruments. A fourth member constantly switched between his requinto and a massive harp, while a fifth Cojolite changed back and forth between his leona (a bass-like instrument) and his quijada (or donkey jaw). You couldn't help but dance—and the dancing became part of the show. Little girls and young men and women danced together onstage, their feet stomping in perfect time to the music.
At one point—during a lightning-fast rendition of "La Bamba," the most famous son jarocho song ever written—Los Cojolites kept speeding up the music, and los bailadoreswere shuffling so fast their feet didn't seem to be touching the stage. An amazing cultural circle had been completed: a nonsensical jarocho tune is popularized by California's own Ritchie Valens and then revitalized in Orange County by a band that came all the way from Veracruz to do so. And it happened right here in Santa Ana. (Nick Schou)