Maldita Vecindad

Vault 350, Long Beach

Sunday, July 25

Maldita Vecindad might still play the same songs they originally fired up years ago, but no one at their Vault 350 show Sunday night gave a damn—maybe because those same tunes are still unfortunately relevant. “We wrote this song a couple of years ago,” lead singer Roco confessed halfway through their two-hour performance, “but it seems more real every day.” That's “No Les Creo Nada” (“I Don't Believe Anything They Say”), a danceable diatribe against government-fellating media that Maldita first recorded in 1996 but now seems pulled from the network feed of the Democratic National Convention. But that's the beauty of Maldita, the Mexico City combo that almost single-handedly invented rock en español with their tropicalia-esque ska punk. La Malditahasn't recorded any new material for years, but their decade-old jeremiads against el DF's rampant urban blight transcend time—and borders. Especially on a night when some good ol' police harassment of concertgoers was in order. But we're getting ahead of the story. First, Maldita's music: angry horns, sharp guitars, congas like machine guns against a Ramallah home. And Roco, dressed in a short-brim fedora, a wife-beater and baggy pants: a chilango pachuco. He jumped, ran and swung across the stage like Bruce Lee running steeplechase. Between every song, he'd lecture the crowd (but not in a preachy way) about a “country which thinks they could invade other countries just because they can.” To his charismatic credit, the capacity crowd stopped slamming around long enough to pump their fists in the air, instead of into one another's backs. But no LBC concert would be complete without cops manhandling kids. Around midnight, a member of Long Beach's finest crossed Pine Avenue, twisted the arm of a member of the fine opening act Chencha Berrinches, and shoved him into a squad car. When I asked what the problem was, the flatfoot told me to shut up. After a good five minutes of bickering, he finally spat out, “Curfew violation” and drove off into the balmy Long Beach night.

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