Bogota, Colombia – December 11th, 2009:
Anticipation was electric for the big Casualties show in Bogota Colombia. I had heard about the show for months and even though I had just returned from a crazy trip in Mexico and Cuba, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see these guys their first time in Colombia. The Casualties and Colombia, two of my favorite things… I knew this was going to be hot. My friend Jorge from ColombiaPunk.com put me up in the same hotel as the Casualties so I saw the guys before the show. They remembered me from the NYC show when I met them backstage at Nokia Times Square and encouraged me to shoot all I wanted. Santiago, the Latin America tour manager was cool as hell and hooked me up with access the whole tour. The day didn’t start without a couple hitches though. I took me 2 full hours to get to the venue which was in El Centro in a rough part of Bogota, and I later heard a well known “communist” neighborhood.Â Do we have those in the U.S.? Part of the delay was my fault as I went to the address on the flyer, which was actually where you buy the tickets and was in the exact opposite direction of the actual concert. Bogota is a big damn city and there isÂ a lot of construction going on, so the next hour or so sitting in stop and go traffic was a nightmare. Luckily, I started early enough and I ended up walking the last few blocks and ran into a ColombianRussian punk (born in Russia, lives in Colombia) named “Nasty” who spoke English and helped me find the place and secure my first few interviews, translating for my horrible Spanish. Thanks Nasty!
After I interviewed Nasty in front of all the punks, things picked up immensely. Bogota Punks are pretty damn hard core looking and intimidating but they were all very, very nice and not shy at all about being on camera talking about the music and lifestyle they love. My ex production partner, Renzo Devia lives in Bogota and he showed up to help me with the interviews adding a bit of professionalism and a badly needed other set of hands to my efforts. Thanks bro!
The interviews went well but I found myself cutting them short so I could listen to the opening bands. They were excellent local Colombian punk and hardcore bands. Maybe somebody will help me out with the names if they read this? Most of the crowd waited outside until the last possible minute to come in (I think waiting on the possibility of a discounted admission) and this caused a problem later in the evening when the Bogota policia showed up and from what I hear a pretty big confrontation ensued outside the venue between punks and police.Â Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I was unable to leave the venue and witness the event myself, but I heard what sounded like a cannon shot (still not sure what that was) and could feel the tension in the air when I tried to get outside, it was palpable.
Inside, the crowd of 500 or so was super excited for the Casualties who went on around 7:30PM that night and played a hell of a show as always.Â You could tell the fans appreciated lead singer, Jorge, speaking to them in Spanish and they rocked and sang to every song. They really went nuts over “Ugly Bastard” and the new stuff from “We Are All We Have”… singing along in broken English but very enthusiastic.Â I was in the “Photo Pit” in front of the stage but that was full of punks who had enough pull to get up there without getting beat up by the security guys, a group of intimidating punks who had their faces covered with bandanas while they brandished clubs and baseball bats to keep the peace. All in all, with the exception of one pummeling that I saw, it was a very peaceful and well behaved crowd. They were there to have fun and they could not have been more friendly and cool to a visiting Gringo punk fan from the U.S. The bond we shared of punk music overrode any cultural differences we may have and as you can see from the photo below, any political feelings they may have about the U.S.
Afterwards, the Casualties hung out back stage and Jorge held court with a few of the Bogota old school punks who worked there way backstage after the show. Later that night we met back out at a pub near the hotel and were subjected to some really, really bad Colombian karaoke which I thought was pretty funny considering we were there with great musicians like the Casualties. I called it an early night as I was exhausted shooting all day. Plus the altitude was messing with me a bit and I knew I had to change my flight to Medellin the next morning. After the Bogota experience, I didn’t want to miss the Casualties in my favorite city in the world, Medellin! I’m glad I didn’t. It was an experience I’ll always remember and there will be more to come on the Casualties in Medellin on the next post.
For all the pics from the who in Bogota go to the photo page and look for video to come soon.