By Christopher Gordon
A Night of Colombian Indie Rock
September 18, 2015
I went to the Barranquilla Indie Rock Music Festival at El Callejón, located on Cra 43 and Calle 70. It was a cool outdoor bar with a big stage. For some reason it was sponsored by Budweiser and not a Colombian brand. The thing that I really liked was that all of the bands were from different places in Colombia. And all of the bands kept reiterating how Barranquilla is the heart of Colombia which felt really good to hear.
I don’t remember the name of the band that was playing when we showed up, but the next band was called Circus Funk. They had a conga player and a keytar player. They were super funny, and I’m pretty sure they did a cover of “Smooth” by Carlos Santana featuring Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20. For some reason twenty-year-old Colombians thought it was appropriate to grind to the smooth sensations of Circus Funk’s keytar playing as if it wrtr a middle school dance.
The next band was called Telebit. They were wearing neon face paint. Before the lights came on, Barbara made a joke about them being Gwar because it looked like they were wearing armor, but it turned out they were just wearing feathers. They sounded way less brutal than Gwar does. Rick said they reminded him of Explosions in the Sky meets Circa Survive.
We watched a few songs from Sicotropico before leaving. They were a heavier rock band, but unfortunately we all were just too tired to stay. Overall, the turnout was pretty good, but it might have been better if the ticket price had been a little lower. We left by 1:00 a.m., and there were still two and a half bands left. Events here in Colombia go unreasonably late, and by the time we left, the place was really emptying out. I feel bad for the headliners, but I’m sure they were great.
Seeing Madball with 8,000 Colombian Punks
October 10, 2015
Every October Colombian school children get the week of for Semana Uribe, which recently meant that I had time to travel. Some friends and I made it to the Coffee Triangle, and we spent the last day of our trip in the city of Manizales. In the taxi from the bus terminal to the hostel, I noticed some punks, and I got excited because I never see any here on the coast. After we dropped our bags off, we walked around for a bit. There were too many punks for this to be a coincidence – it was the most punks I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m talking about ’77 punks with huge neon mohawks and leather jackets. This was straight out of a time machine. There were thousands of them. They were everywhere. When we got back to the hostel, the receptionist mentioned that there was a rock concert that weekend, so I googled it. It turns out that this was the second day of the three-day Manizales Grita Rock fest and Madball was headlining.
I messaged my best friend, and asked, “If Madball was playing a free concert in your city, would you care enough to go?”
He messaged back and said, “You asked the wrong punk because Madball is my guiltiest pleasure.”
I was sold. We were going. I feel bad because we missed all of the opening bands, and apparently there were a lot of cool Colombian punk and metal bands that played, but Madball was all we had time for.
I read the following day that there were over 8,000 people there, and honestly they all looked straight out of the 1970s. Freddie, the lead singer, came out wearing a Colombian soccer jersey and speaking perfect Spanish. He worked the crowd and the stage well. I got unreasonably excited and thought it was a good idea to share the great American custom of the circle pit with 8,000 of my new Colombian friends. The circle pit, that brings to mind your favorite posi-song “Walk Together, Rock Together;” the same circle pit where when someone falls, you pick them up; the very same circle pit that is supposed to be a safe place for boys and girls of all shapes and sizes to dance together. Unfortunately for me, Colombian punks were not very receptive to the dancing style of American hardcore kids, but I had a fun time nonetheless. If any volunteers are here next year, definitely consider the Manizales Grita Rock Festival. I think it’s the best music experience I’ve had in this country and I highly recommend it. It’s free, and it just might change your life.