The recent Bohemia Bookstore benefit brought together fans of four very local Latino punk bands to the Garage in Silverlake.
The opening band, Cooker, is a pop-punk trio with melodic guitar riffs and vocal harmonizing ala Blink 182. The front man, Doper, was very animated, making silly faces which contrasted with his just-released-from-San Quentin look, complete with prison-like neck and arm tattoos, shaved head and baggy clothes. This was my first time seeing this band and some of their tunes are really pop and catchy that just from this show I can see how the could get played on MTV. They played a good six-song set and did a great job of warming up all the people from the Cypress Park/Lincoln Heights area that went to check out Los Creepers.
It was a disappointment to find out Los Creepers singer, Lucky Almader, was in Tijuana and could not make the show due to his grandmother's passing. Despite his absence, the rest of the band played strong and hard with guitarist Alex Alvarez on vocals. Most of the set consisted of very short songs with high-energy guitar riffs and drums. Their rockabilly/country, but mostly punk rock tunes were familiar to most of the crowd who seemed to be either family or friends. They announced that they have been recently added to Goldenvoice's Hootenanny show with the Stray Cats as headliners. The band also gave a public "shout-out" to all their local fans in the audience and the crowd responded by shouting and making some noise in support of their local neighborhood boys.
By the end of the Los Creepers set, the venue was packed. It seemed most people were there to check out the chicas from Go Betty Go, as I was. I was impressed by their tight musicianship, musical rapport with each other, and their ability to play some kick-ass punk rock. Their first song was in Spanish; singer Nicolette Vilar, has a natural ability to throw all self-consciousness aside and one minute, deliver a sweet, innocent-eyed baby-voice and the next, a tough, angry cat-fight scream.
Her feminine movements and dancing in between verses reminds me of Super Elegantes singer and performance artist Milena Muzquiz. Guitarist Betty Cisneros has some pretty amazing fingerwork and used a variety of effects that kept the music from being too monotonous. Drummer Aixa Vilar (sister of singer Nicolette) played tightly and kept the bands tempo up and energetic. And Michelle Rangel on bass guitar, although very low-key herself, has a bass playing style that requires a lot of intricate finger playing. She is very impressive, and I have to say, she's cute as a button).
The last band, Phatso, played after I left (I rode wih a friend who wanted to leave).
There was a rare feel-good community centered vibe to the show with an almost all Latino crowd, which is a little rare in L.A. I would definitely see, and would recommend anyone to see, any of these bands wherever you can catch them!
Lorena Villegas is a freelance writer, photojournalist and substitute teacher.