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).