Latino Punk in the Inland Empire

From San Antonio, East Los Angeles, Pomona and even Tijuana, punk evolved within Latino communities, and four bands demonstrated their contribution to the scene. On Oct. 20, punk bands Sangre, Piñata Protest, Powerflo and Brujeria played a show at the Pomona Glasshouse. Their stop in Pomona, a part of a month long tour throughout the United States, was where the band, Sangre, has its roots. The Glasshouse is a relatively small venue, but one that drew in a massive amount of other latino punks from the Inland Empire. Even more notable was the age differences within the crowd. There were many older latino punks in attendance, as there were many younger punks from around the area as well. But the crowd treated one another with love and respect, as everyone shared a sense of kinship as fans of the eclectic genre.

I was initially drawn to the concert by the bands Piñata Protest and Brujeria, but ended up being captivated by every performer of the set.


Opening up for the show was Sangre, a metal band originating in Pomona. As such, they brought that great P-town energy to the stage. I was not expecting the opening act to be so hardcore, but I was completely with it, as were the others in attendance, partly because the way metal was sung in Spanish was curiously exhilarating. Their style had such electricity and the guitarist, in my opinion, was the best guitarist out during the whole concert.  While they were only the first act, they set the bar high for the rest of the night.


Another heavy metal band that was present was Powerflo, a recently formed band originating in East L.A. with much power behind their sound, hence their name. The band is made up of a collection of veteran artists, some coming from other big names bands like Biohazard, Fear Factory, and even Cypress Hill. This somewhat describes their unique style of music. Senen Reyes, a Cuban-American musician and a past member of Cypress Hill, delivers his vocals with aggression and rhythm that took the whole crowd by storm. They opened up with heavy drums and deep rhythm guitar and bass, then added an explosive delivery with vocals and lead guitar. Their music was some of the best rehearsed I have ever seen or heard from a heavy metal band, and the musicians would constantly mix in with the crowds while they were playing, jumping over the barriers and interacting with their fans. Before hearing Powerflo’s music, I’ll admit I was skeptical by their name, but turns out they are some of the hardest rockers I have ever seen.


Now for the bands I had the definite purpose of seeing, and whose names influenced me to buying a ticket: Piñata Protest and Brujeria. I had such high expectations before seeing both bands and fortunately for me, they both exceeded those expectations. I always recommend these bands to people who ask me, “Mexican Punk? What do you mean by that?” The genre is diverse, and if you look up these two bands, you’ll notice how they are drastically different from each other and you will understand what I mean.


The anticipation I had when Piñata protest was setting up was palpable and then the lights dimmed. With the spotlight focussing on center stage, the singer, Àlvaro Del Norte, came up with his accordion and flawlessly played my favorite song of theirs, Vato Perron. Immediately the whole crowd erupted into a corrido-dancing frenzy. Those who were unaware of the band’s reputation were taken away by their introspective and satirical lyrics. Piñata Protest makes a point of expressing Méxicano pride and brushing off stereotypes opposed upon them. One example comes from the song Vato Perron with the lines, “I’m in a gang, I also do voodoo. I am mojado, y que? What’s it to you?” It was with that phrasing that the whole crowd was able to understand where they were coming from. I will never forget the speech the lead singer gave in between songs, stating, “I am not from here. But that does not mean I am any less American than any of you. And I am sick to see the country making divisions amongst the people. As far as I know, there are only two kinds of people. So if you like Red salsa on your tacos go to *this* side, and if you like green salsa on your tacos go to *this side*. And we are going to have a f**king wall of death!”

Finally, the much anticipated time arrived. Brujeria was the only band left to play, and if you know anything about this band, you know how much they enjoy theatrics. Brujeria is a band that takes on the appearances of cartel members, wearing covers on their face and chanting in Spanish. Of course this is only their character, and their music is full of tongue in cheek lyrics. But this does not dismiss the power that this death grind band brings to the stage and for their listeners. They opened up with the song, Pocho Aztlan, which talks about their treatment in the U.S, being called “wetbacks”, but also talking about being called “pocho”, which means trash, in México. Their music brings a lot of introspection into the culture, and even their name, which translates to witchcraft, a taboo subject for the elderly in their culture. Of course, one would expect a band of this caliber to have something to say of the politics of today. One of the most anticipated songs of the night was ¡Viva Presidente Trump! but if you know the lyrics and art of this song, you would know this is not in support of the elected president of the United States. Brushing aside the profane lyrics, the song talks about their desire to see him do something with them first, so that they can come finish it. And I believe this properly demonstrates where they are coming from.


It has been said before by Jello Biafra from the Dead Kennedys, that punk needs to die in some ways so it can evolve. Latino Punks have taken the genre and have done something beautiful with it. They gave punk back to those who are marginalized for how they are. They made it as a way to demonstrate that we are all we have, when politics are against us and when society is against us. It makes a bond, and it spreads the message that we vato perrones will never go away.


all photos courtesy of reporter, Blue Andrade.