It is so hard to size up a city like Santiago in one day. It’s just too big with 8 million or so people. Any attempt to size up it’s punk scene is equally difficult but i can tell you this, my observation after two full days (one severely jet lagged and sleep deprived), this is a PUNK city. And when I say punk, I mean Punk, Psychobilly, Rockabilly, ska, etc.. it’s all thriving.
Today in a span of literally 120 seconds waiting on the train one after another punk walked right in front of me. One older cat (aka my age), sporting a Stooges shirt and fully sleeved head to toe tattoos, another younger cat with Blondie shirt and yet another with a Misfits vest complete with spikes and a mohawk.
Psychobilly haircuts are everywhere and black is the color of choice. There is more black here than in New York City and Santiago kicks New York’s ass (and Los Angeles for that matter) for per capita punk aesthetic. Could it be the Pinochet years were good for something other than “disappearing” hundreds of thousands of innocents? (BTW thanks so much for meddling U.S.A! I’m surprised I’m not stoned when I landed at the airport).
Anyway, luckily, yesterday walking in the Provedencia area (an upscale part of town), I happened by a tattoo parlor with an interesting mascot (see above) and stopped by to see if the guys running the place knew anything about the punk scene in Santiago (you know, tattoos.. punks.. they do sort of go together most of the time).
Man am I glad I did. Turns out, Marlon, the owner, is in a punk band called Los Retorcidos and his amigo, John (AKA Nino Lobo DJ or DJ Little Wolf) is a huge rockabilly cat and a semi celebrity, representing the rockabilly lifestyle on a reality show on Chile’s Channel 13.
They gave me lots of insight into the Santiago punk, rockabilly and psychobilly scenes and they are indeed very different, but related, and as I said all thriving.
These guys are cool as hell and I get the feeling Marlon is a top notch tattoo artist based on the photos in his shop Tattoo Rocker and the amount of traffic he had in his shop.
Now I must go, I’m on my way to Valparaiso (about 2 hours away) for a Ska concert tonight and have to meet up with Mauro and Pedro who graciously agreed to show me around the punk and ska scenes there. Gonna be a long night! Stay tuned!