I am getting plenty old. Pretty soon, I’m sure I’ll need bloodwork. But there are some things that I never seem to outgrow. And violently thrashing around a pit filled with a horde of sweaty, riotous, tattooed youths is apparently one of those things. I’ve had my ears thoroughly inundated with music during my six weeks here thus far and have made a great effort to secure that fact. But I have long been interested in how the Lima musical underground operates. It’s like those nature channel shows where the Aussie documentarian gets right up in there with the tigers, risking life and limb. You can’t just watch from afar. You’ve got to experience it for yourself
So, on Saturday afternoon, I hopped a cab over to the “Super Complejo” in Los Olivos, a neighborhood about fifteen minutes to the North of our quaint hamlet, Planeta. The Super Complex is basically as it sounds: A large, multi-thousand capacity, outdoor venue, sponsored by delicious Pilsen beer and playing host to a 30-foot-wide stage and epic sound system.
This particular event was sort of a grand assembly of some of the finest punk, ska and metal bands in Lima including “Aeropajitas”, “Psicosis”, “Inyectores”, “Serial Asesino”, “Leusemia” and several others in addition to Argentinean punk rock headliner “2 Minutos”. All in all, there were 15 bands on the bill. This may seem strange to you. It might also seem strange that the show only cost me 14 soles( about $5). But I have come to notice that this concept of rock “festivals” is a very common occurrence.
As it were, I have yet to observe a single weekend in Lima that didn’t advertise at least three or four of these large festivals. Some of these shows feature dozens of bands on the marquee. And, often, one finds bands that have been hustling it for twenty years sharing a stage with some group of naive 16-year-olds who just got out of the basement. And the fact that no one seems to mind this arrangement is just brilliant.
In fact, this extreme DIY concept( which I’ve discussed to exhaustion in the past) runs a lot deeper than I originally could have imagined. Though not so well-known in North America, there are a significant number of bands which I have now become aware of within Peru that have made quite a name for themselves around both this country and the bulk of the South American continent. And, for this reason, one would believe that these groups would have, at some point, gotten themselves into the almost risk-free business of selling CDs, t-shirts, belts, buttons and low-rise thongs with their logo on them on the internet. WRONG. These bands, for the most part, don’t even have merch people. If you want to purchase music or anything else from these guys, you’re going to have to work up the courage to go up to the band yourself( as they’re carrying their own equipment) and ask personally to buy said illustrious items. In short, these bands are playing… constantly… for the music. The potential for profit is seems to be merely an afterthought.
As for the concert, it was really marvelous. The scene is really alive here and the energy is high. I saw great bands one after another with lightning-fast set changes. The way these kids were begging for more would make one believe that these ensembles only came to town every few years. But the truth is that these bands and these fans come out every weekend to do this. And that’s fierce commitment.
Although, it seems wrong for me to not point out the downside of the occasion. Amidst my jumping around I unfortunately lost my cell-phone from what I thought was a well-sealed pocket. It’s either that or somebody is really an impeccable thief. Either way, it was at that point that I decided to leave the show. It was also at that point that I discovered that I would never see my Swiss Army Knife again; the one that been taken at the door and which was promised to be returned to me upon my leaving( but wasn’t); the one which my father gave to me on my tenth birthday… ya know…. THAT one.
But we really shouldn’t let these blunders ruin the finer moments. It was a marvelous performance; one which I’m unlikely to forget in my lifetime. And I’m glad I got to experience it. For my last week in Lima, I plan to try and take in some Peruvian death metal and/or electro/EBM/industrial music… time permitting, of course. It should be most thrilling.