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Movers and Shakers
From the 1968 protests to
the Mexico City quake,
'rock en español' is as much
a movement as a music.
Just as it was in the U.S., rock music in Mexico in the '60s was inextricably tied up with political protest. Due mainly to the repression that followed the government attacks on student protesters in 1968, many young bands were forced underground--only to be seen and heard at impromptu street concerts and small clubs located throughout the barrios of Mexico City.
"To play in Mexico is [still] difficult," says Maldita Vecindad guitarist Tiky. "There's prejudice against the music. The government thinks it will cause chaos."
Although Spanish-language rock was already thriving in countries like Spain and Argentina, it wasn't until the early '80s that the rock en español music scene in Mexico began to develop in earnest. Up to this point, Mexican rock had mainly consisted of cover bands of American and European groups (the Beatles, Elvis, Little Richard, the Rolling Stones) singing in English. No longer interested in emulating their American counterparts, groups began to sing en español.
El Tri, Botellita de Jerez and Ritmo Peligroso were among the first to emerge from the evolving scene. Considered the Godfather of Mexican Rock, El Tri still exists today, and is easily one of the most popular rock en español bands throughout Mexico and the U.S., especially with older fans of Spanish-language rock.
Rock en español began to gain momentum after Mexico was rocked by yet another catastrophe--the Mexico City earthquake of Sept. 19, 1985, a paramount event marking the birth of such revolutionary bands as Maldita Vecindad. It was then that Maldita Vecindad began interacting with underground artists of other disciplines to create a sort of bohemian subculture that organized at the grass-roots level to help out in the aftermath of the disaster. By 1988, the band was performing on top of a revolving truck (an image that later was recreated in their low-budget video Morenaza), in front of thousands of people taking part in the street demonstrations organized by a new generation of university students.
Although Maldita Vecindad has made great strides in a city where alternative spaces for music are not allowed, the band, along with many others, continues to be censored by the televisa, the national TV monopoly controlled by the government, and mainstream radio programs. But censorship isn't enough to stop the revolution, says Tiky! "Little by little the movement is growing."
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