MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA – FINAL DAY

Ouch! Mouth Tattoo

After 15 days in Colombia working on various projects, it seemed completely appropriate that I spend my last full day, a Saturday, at an all day punk show. Two other independent, Gringo travel journalists I had met at the beginning of my trip, David and Troy, tagged along with me.

Troy from FOGG getting some snaps

David is a travel blogger from Virginia living in Medellin and is a punk fan from way back. His blog is Travel Blog Success. Troy is a very talented photographer and travel blogger from Missouri, who has hung his travel hat in Medellin for a few weeks. He wanted to get some photos for his travel blog which is called Forget Obligation Go Global or FOGG. It was both David and Troy’s first punk show in Latin America and it was cool to turn them on to the experience.

Insurgentes Interview

We got there a little early and I was able to get an interview with one of Medellin’s few all girl punk bands, Insurgentas (Insurgents) while Troy snapped some pics.  The ladies gave a great interview in Spanglish (English and Spanish), and they gave me a copy of their CD “La Furia Recorre Tu Sangre” which translated means something like “Blood Fury” I think. Whatever the meaning, I was able to give the CD a good listen through while unpacking from my trip and these ladies are not just some all girl novelty act, they are first rate musicians who blend punk with their own brand of intense hardcore. My favorite song on the CD was the instrumental “Outro”, but I want to give the CD a good couple more listens before I declare this a hard fact.

With Insurgentes after the interview - Photo by Juan Fernando Subero

After the interview and some more pics with Insurgentes, I went inside the venue where the owner treated us with the extreme gracious hospitality that I’m starting to get used to when visiting Colombia.

Puerto Rico's "La Virgen del Pozo"

First up was a hardcore band from Puerto Rico “La Virgen del Pozo” which translated means “The Virgin of Pozo”. Impressed with my Spanish translation skills yet? The drummer and two guitarists do double duty and these guys switch out lead singers later on and the band becomes, wallah, “Tropiezo” (Stumble/Slip), a whole different hardcore experience.

Puerto Rico's "Tropiezo"

I got to interview these cats after the shows and I’m really pumped because I’ve been wanting to get clued in on the Puerto Rican punk scene for quite some time. Living in NYC I’ve got lots of Puerto Rican and “Nuyorican” (New Yorkers of Puerto Rican Descent) friends and acquaintances and I’ve noticed a big and often unheralded representation of Puerto Ricans in the NYC punk scene.

Drummer for "La Virgen del Pozo" and "Tropiez"

I wondered what the island culture would be like and I later found out after I interviewed these guys that Puerto Rico’s got a pretty potent scene. The lead singer for La Virgen del Pozo, Rex, currently lives in San Francisco but tours with the band whenever they all scrape up enough money with their side jobs to travel.

Interviewing "La Virgen del Pozo"

They put out their own CDs and even though they almost never get paid for touring (though sometimes they’ll get some cash when in the U.S.), incredibly they have traveled a ton, including Spain, The U.S. (including NYC), Jamaica and Japan, to name a few. This was their first tour to Colombia and they had just played neighboring Venezuela on their way to Medellin.

Maybe because I was able to conduct the interview in English or maybe because I just respect how these guys work their side jobs so they can pursue their love of punk music, but I felt I bonded with these guys during the interview.

La Virgen del Pozo and Tropiezo are as punk as punk can get, not in the way they dress (though the drummer is tattooed up) or even in their music (which does features really, really short, really, really hardcore punk songs) but in their attitude. Punk is their life and they demonstrate it by doing whatever it takes to get their music out there. They put out their own CDs, book their own touring schedules and head to far off (and sometimes expensive) locales in order to spread their brand of punk/hardcore music. I dig that.

Tropiezo

I’ve said here before the only think I hate worse than media strereotypes are the stereotypes that people place on themselves. So many Puerto Ricans are stereotyped as Salsa or Reggaeton loving people, when in fact, the underground punk and hardcore scene is very healthy on the island.

I’ve noticed NYC Puerto Ricans in particular, maybe in an effort to represent their small homeland, end up very vocally coming across as speaking for the whole island even though they may have no idea what is going on in the underground scene of their own country. Puerto Ricans aren’t all Daddy Yankee and Don Omar devotees, it is true!

FU2! Photo Andres OCampo

Not unlike here in the states and specifically NYC, where I read in the paper where more and more women are getting their hair colored pink, blue or purple these days. One hairstylists attributed it to Lady Gaga’s influence.  As if punk women haven’t been coloring their hair for 30 years?

Puerto Ricans, like all people, can’t be lumped into one big category of culture the media and even other clueless Puerto Ricans sometimes portray. They are made up of individuals with individual tastes, likes and dislikes.

Medellin's "Renkore"

I digressed. Another high point of the show was taking in the local Medellin hardcore band, Renkore which the crowd went crazy over with a style of dancing that is a bit like Karate or the Brazilian martial art  capoeira meets the punk pit. It was pretty cool to watch but tough to get good shots and simultaneously protect the camera and keep it from getting kicked out of my hand, but I did. Renkore has two lead vocalists, one with a piercing, high pitched vocal scream  and I really enjoyed their music. I suggest you check them out if you like good hardcore.

Medellin's "Renkore"

I’m going to have some video all week from each of the bands’ performances as well as some of that crazy dancing I was telling you about later on in the week once I get caught up, so please stay tuned.

Faces of Punk

In the meantime, if you want to check all the pics, as always, you can hit up the set at the PUNK OUTLAW FLIKR page and I’d also like to give a shout out and thanks to Andres Ocampo from Los Suziox and Juan Fernando Subero for contributing to these pics.

Enjoy!

10 thoughts on “Puerto Rico’s Potent Punk Scene Invades Medellin

  1. Insurgentes!!!!! WoW!!!!
    These girls are spectacular! Where’ve they been hiding? Really, really hope to see more of them.

    Awesome video on their web site.

  2. Thank you for taking off the video! I was only objecting to that one video that I didn’t feel belonged here amongst the Punk! It just wasn’t Punk. I love this blog and I love discovering
    new music through it. I thought it was spoiling the vibe that’s all. It belongs someplace else.

    I only wrote a letter on the video, my words. This post was not written by me. It’s just paragraphs from a book called “Half Sky” by Nicolas Kristoff.

    I think all the other music and travel videos on here are awesome and informative!!! And the Colombians girls are insanely fashionable, talented, cool, unique and gorgeous!

    But in all fairness, you have to agree with me! Referring to the event as a “bikini contest”?

    By virtue, don’t you actually have to be wearing a bikini? 🙂

  3. That video was up a long time before I started the blog and I just never got around to taking it down. Funny, I’m reading half the sky currently. About 1/2 way through it. It’s a good book.

    I don’t think Latin America is as puritanical (or hypocritical) as the U.S.
    It’s a fact, what we call a thong, they call a bikini. It’s just the way it is.
    Remember why they call it a Brazilian bikini? It’s from Brazil.

    Once you get used to it, it doesn’t seem so salacious. I remember going to Brazil for the first time and I remember at first my eyes popping out of my head at the display of flesh on the beach.. then I remember about day 7 being like “whatever” and started seeing people as people rather than sex objects.. and by the way, EVERYONE wore a thong.. fat, old, young, beautiful, etc. AND men wore speedos.. same thing, fat, old, young, ugly, etc. There were times I wish people wore MORE clothes than they did.

    Latin Americans have different attitudes than we do about modesty and in some ways are more liberal (bikinis are thongs) but in other ways more conservative (women’s shorts aren’t worn nearly as short as they are here). Either way I think it sure beats the draping a woman in a burqua where all you can see are her eyes.

    Whether it’s healthier or not, is not for me to decide. I just don’t want to see any North American puritanism get crammed down people’s throats down there… there are too many North American influences as is..

  4. I’m not American. I don’t share American views on modesty. I sunbathe topless with my friends when we’re in France, Greece or Spain. We don’t think anything of it and only a “puritanical” outsider would shoot video of it.

  5. When I mentioned the word “burlesque” in a report from Argentina you went off the rails with expletive laced email and comments in February. Burlesque is pretty tame stuff and part of rockabilly culture whether you approve or not.

    In this issue you went over the top with your comments insinuating a bikini video leads to rape, calling me an exploiter and humiliating women, etc.

    Then you back down when I call you out on it and you say you just didn’t want bikinis and punk mixed up (I agreed and took the video down). Then you throw a few compliments around like that makes it all ok?!

    Which is it, where do you stand?
    1) you are ok with it but just don’t want bikini videos on a punk rock site or
    2) you are not ok with it because you consider another culture’s lack of “modesty” offensive?

    You are entitled and welcome to share your opinion. But your lack of consistency and over the top reactions means you have no credibility on this issue with me.

  6. Sorry, I’m not a professional writer or a good communicator on-line. I like to talk to people face to face. I could explain it in five minutes in a real life conversation and I attempted to do that.

    My compliments are genuine. I don’t devalue and write off someone just because I disagree with them on an issue. I can still admire and appreciate that person. Didn’t we just have a Muslim cab driver stabbed in New York because of intolerance?

    It’s not the culture or morality of the people in the image. It’s why a video or picture is taken
    and how it’s going to be used.

    For example, Salma Hayek allowed pictures of her to be taken, breastfeeding an African baby to publicize a charity. I really admire her for that. If, that picture is taken and put on a child or adult pornography site, then its purpose is to sexually titillate and is exploitative.

    The purpose of burlesque is to have entertainers sexually titallate the audience.

    Art or Pornography? Art is something to be viewed and admired. I just recently saw the Picassso sketches at the Met. His sketches are sexually graphic but it’s not pornography. You admire the images. Pornography is not admiring a human being, it’s degrading a human.

    Burlesque’s purpose is to sexaully titillate. It’s pornography. It’s “tame stuff” but it’s still
    pornography. My objection before, was that you referred to it as an “art form”.

    Even chimpanzees have a sense of morality. We all know which videos and pictures are shot and styled to be beautiful, and which one’s are shot and styled for the purpose of mastubating on. It’s up to each individual to demand or reject it.

    Is Punk Outlaw a Punk site or a Porn site? I’m asking for the porn to be kept off. Keep it Punk.

    And if you’re saying, your purpose, for putting overtly sexualized images of women on this site is for informative purposes, educating us on foreign cultural stanards, then Punk Outlaw’s next trip should be to document the Nubian Punks living on DE-NIAL!!!

  7. On the contrary, you are a very good communicator online. I am not a professional writer by a long shot either. So long as we keep the dialogue respectful, civil and open minded then I’m ok with it.

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