Uploaded on Sep 23, 2009
Landfall Festival 2009
Legion Arts' second annual festival of world music, featuring some 50 musicians from ten countries, kicked off Sunday, September 20 with DJ Cheb i Shabbah and continues through Sunday, September 27 in Greene Square Park, across from the Museum of Art. (Rain location: CSPS Theater) For more information and for complete schedule click on http://www.legionarts.org
In this video performance from Monday, September 21, the members of Los de Abajo met in high school with a mission to make music that was 100% danceable and cathartic and with a message about the political and social situation they are living through in Mexico. Formed by Carlos Cuevas (keyboard), Yocu Arrellano (drummer), Liber Terán (vocals) and Vladimir Garnica (guitar), the band set out to mix mestizo (half-breed) rock with other influences from salsa to reggae and Mexican styles. According to singer Liber Terán, Weve always had an itch to mix the local with the global.
They began hosting high-energy gigs at various ersatz clubs and spaces in Mexico Citys largely improvised rock scene. Finding themselves outside the mainstream network for emerging bands, the group learned the only way to survive was to go DIY. They began playing political events and parties. As Yocu puts it, The context in which we developed was this -- injustice, neglect for the poor and lack of avenues for free expression.
Los de Abajo take their name from a classic novel about the Mexican Revolution and fervently believe that change comes from below. Of course, the ideas had an influence on the music, Yocu says. This became the most punk and radical thing: combining our sentiments with the strength and heat of Afro-Latin rhythms. The diversity of ideas and concepts was such that no record company would touch them, so they recorded two cassettes that spread through Mexico Citys rock underground and toured throughout the Republic. In 1999, they came to the attention of David Byrne and were signed to his Luaka Bop record label for the release of their international debut, Los de Abajo.
They were already a pretty exciting combination of rock energy, salsa, reggae and cumbia, says Byrne. We then asked to see what they were like live and were sent a video of the band performing at a union party in a huge outdoor shed-type deal -- they were playing their salsafied rock and the audience was pogoing, moshing and jumping around like mad.
Byrne suggested their music should be called punk salsa, but the band preferred the term tropipunk (because of the fusion of tropical rhythms, says Liber, though he described their first album as practically a record of political songs, with a punk attitude in the lyrics, inspired by The Clash).
Follow-up Cybertropic Chilango Power was released in 2002 and won BBC Radio 3s World Music Award for the Americas. 2006s LDA v The Lunatics saw them continue to absorb influences from around the world and included a Spanish-language version of The Fun Boy Three song The Lunatics (Have Taken Over The Asylum) featuring Neville Staples.
No borraran and Actitud calle followed in 2006 and 2009.
Los de Abajo is one of the more glorious moments in the history of clashes between global music styles. They are not to be missed!
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