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A Latinx Punk Band On a Moving Truck Played a ‘Literal Soundtrack for the Oppressed’ For Protestors in DTLA, Of Course They Were From Pico Rivera

[dropcap size=big]F[/dropcap]ive rockers from Pico Rivera who loaded a drum set, a generator, and a guitar amp onto a pickup truck and furiously played power chords through downtown L.A. during the peak of the uprising in the name of George Floyd have gone down in history. 

Following in the footsteps of Rage Against the Machine’s historic free show-turned-uprising in 2000 during L.A.’s Democratic Convention, members of the Pico Rivera band “Vandalize” provided the soundtrack for the anger and frustration felt by demonstrators protesting in the name of the killing of George Floyd in Downtown’s Historic Core on Saturday night.

“It was just a last-minute random idea I had,” says Josh Alexander, the driver of the truck and former member of the band to L.A. Taco. “Our band broke up, but the music always stayed...we were just jamming out,” Alexander shares. 

 

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LA PUNX share it my Gs

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The style of music they were performing for the hundreds of Angelenos who were protesting against police brutality is Power Violence, a sub-genre of faster and more aggressive punk rock pioneered by bands like Charles Bronson and Spazz, and kept alive locally by bands such as ACxDC from L.A. and Violencia from Tijuana. Though Alexander also shares that they also add in elements of “mincecore,” a sub-genre of another even more brutal sub-genre called grindcore, noted amongst punks and metalheads for its hyperfast, relentless blast-beat drumming.    

“Yeah, you can bring a speaker and blast a playlist or you can jump in [a] truck and play a literal soundtrack for the oppressed with some fucking Power Violence. It’s an incredibly potent image.” 

“It’s a reflection of how they see their art as an act of rebellion. In times of uprising and turmoil they felt that was the most appropriate act they could perform and embody,” says Alejandro Bravo, one half of the duo behind the weekly podcast dedicated to exploring the identity and intersections of the Latinx punk experience, Ey Foo You a Rocker. “It’s a very romantic and physical embodiment of the rocker foo spirit; visibility for the brown fat greñudos out there.”

 

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Anarchy is the streets of LA 🤔

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“A lot of punk music, in general, can often feel like it’s not actually creating a change and is purely aesthetic. But that video clip shows us the power a good rebellious tune has, and they selflessly, without hoping to capitalize, because they aren’t even really an official 'band,' went out there and brought music to the people,” says Vladimir Santos, the other half Ey Foo You a Rocker podcast. “Yeah, you can bring a speaker and blast a playlist or you can jump in [a] truck and play a literal soundtrack for the oppressed with some fucking Power Violence. It’s an incredibly potent image.”

“It gives me hope that the DIY ethic that we helped start in the late 70s that has always been about questioning authority, fighting fascism and believing that if we all stand together we can be a positive force for change is alive & perhaps stronger than ever. At a time when we need unity and change more than ever.” 

Pico Rivera has a long history of being an epicenter of punk rock in Southern California. Circle One, an influential punk band whose frontman John Macias was also known to be a peacemaker in L.A.’s punk community, is also from Pico. 

Shawn Stern, the co-founder of the annual Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival and frontman for the pioneering punk band Youth Brigade who played many shows with Circle One, finds hope for the future of punk in Alexander’s act of DIY musical rebellion. 

“They just played guitar and drums out of the back of a truck in the middle of the protests against police brutality?!?! That’s so punk rock! Sterns tells L.A. Taco.  

“It gives me hope that the DIY ethic that we helped start in the late 70s that has always been about questioning authority, fighting fascism and believing that if we all stand together we can be a positive force for change is alive & perhaps stronger than ever. At a time when we need unity and change more than ever.”

“One thing I always wanted to do was play in a truck and riot, my dream finally came true that night,” concludes Alexander.

Angel Peralta contributed to this report.  

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