February 17, 2006

Playing in the Name of

Rockers launch Rage Against the Machine Tribute Tour

By Camilo Arenivar

The second most important thing to ever happen to Southern California’s competitive Spanish Rock scene is about to happen. I can’t tell you what the first was, whether it was Verdad y Justicia forming an agreement with national distributor Navarre in 2004 to release Rock en Español CDs from independent bands nationally or if it was the release of the “Tributo a Rage Against The Machine…en Español” CD itself last November. The success and attention that CD generated has inspired Uno Media and Ric Fazekas of the Verdad y Justicia Label Group to bring the songs to rockeros from San Francisco to Las Vegas to Tucson. There are actually 11 planned stops on the tour, playing to almost every Latino metropolitan area but San Jose.

Why does that make this an important thing for the Los Angeles Spanish rock scene? After all, there are only nine bands on the tour and not many more on the CD, yet the L.A. Rock en Español scene easily has grown to include over 100 bands competing to get their music heard. It’s not just rock, in fact the term presently being embraced by the Verdad Y Justicia Label Group to lump this diverse mix of ska, metal, cumbia-rock, urban-rap, goth, synth pop to straight-ahead rock and roll is “Latino Alternativo”. A play on the “Alternative Rock” label that has spurned many sub-categories in and of itself.

So, how is this tour important for anyone other than the bands on the tour? It is important because this showcase of nine merely reflects a drop in the bucket of the talent that exists in one of the most under-represented underground music scenes in the United States.

Why the big record labels like Universal and Sony and radio stations like SuperEstrella continue to blatantly ignore this genre is unclear. There clearly is a market for this music. All one needs do is look at Radio andRecords.com’s Spanish/Alt Rock charts to know these bands can generate interest outside of the hotbed of Los Angeles. Someone has got to take the place of Mana, La Ley, Jaguares, Aterpciolades, Moenia, and Molotov one of these days. Who will it be and why can’t it be a band from the United States?

The answer to that question remains ever elusive. One thing is for sure, some of the best bands of this genre are about to hit 11 different cities to showcase not just their talent, but in essence to represent the talent all that the Los Angeles “Latino Alternativo” scene has to offer. Each of the nine contributing US–based bands will be a part of this tour including Afixión, Cabeza de Gallo, Coatl, Inner City Soul, Nefalim, Pro-fé-cia, La Banda Skalavera, Spigga and Stoic Frame. (Argentina-based Timmy O’Tool and México headquartered Dragón Zaga are providing videos of their respective songs that will be shown between sets). Bands will be performing their Rage Tributo contribution and additional material from their own CDs that have been released through Verdad Y Justicia and the Navarre Corporation.

The Tributo a Rage Against The Machine…En Vivo Tour (website: http://ratmtributo.rockeros.net/) kicks off at the world-famous J.C. Fandangos in Anaheim on Feb. 9, with a stop at the Hard Rock Cafe in Tijuana, Mexico (Feb.25). Additional dates are in the planning stages.

Camilo Arenivar is a freelance journalist who can be reached at camiloj@gmail.com. Reprinted from Latino LA.com.

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