What could ever be better than seeing my favorite punk rock artist live and for free near my house? Doing so at an amazing vinyl record store that I didn't even know it existed and it's packed with tons of cheap records! Yeah, vinyl digging and hardcore moshing all in the same place!
Everybody should go through a punk-rock phase sometime in their lives, ideally around 18-21 years old. That's the age when punk's rebellion makes sense. Eventually you grow out of it, for obvious reasons (ok, some people never do), but you always will remember those years and the songs that marked that era, and whenever you are in a fuck-it-all mood later in life, you can always revisit those memories and once again listen to those silly songs you used to take so seriously back then.
I had my punk phase around 1994-95 and at that time, in Buenos Aires, the hottest new punk band was Fun People. I fell in love with their music the first time a friend made me a tape with songs from their debut album Anesthesia and that album has been in my desert island top ten list ever since.
Those were the years of Buenos Aires Hard Core, a collective of bands with three syllable names that pretty much carbon-copied the aesthetics and attitude of the New York macho-core bands of the time. Fun People came out of that scene and distinguished themselves from the rest by playing a more melodic (Californian?) brand of punk with sensitive lyrics (proto-emo?) and very eclectic influences (from trash metal to surf rock to reggae to bolero to The Smiths). I instantly loved them, not only because of their more accessible, catchy melodies, but also because of the unbelievable energy their singer Nekro, a true showman, had on stage. Since then I became a music journalist and so I've seen millions of live concerts of every music genre imaginable but still, to this date, I haven't seen anybody that can match Nekro's stage performance.
So, Nekro eventually became a solo artist and changed his name to Boom Boom Kid. At first I was a little reticent about this move, I thought it was gonna suck but the truth is that Boom Boom Kid's albums were even better than Fun People's and that's a huge statement considering I don't have any nostalgic feelings for the Kid because his music came out after I emigrated to the US.
Anyway, the one thing that singles Boom Boom Kid out of the rest of Latin American punk music, besides the already mentioned impressive live shows, is that he somehow managed to develop a huge steady following outside of Latin America. For a while now he's been coming to the US once a year and doing these D.I.Y coast-to-coast tours with great success among a crowd that's not necessary comprised of Latinos or Spanish speakers (probably due to the fact that his music is 50/50 English and Spanish).
Last night he played in the back room of a punk record store in the Mission District with a couple of local punk bands and of course I went. I thought I knew all the record stores that specialized in vinyl in this city, but I had no idea about this one! I got there early, with time to dig through the crates and I saw Boom Boom Kid there, who I still call Nekro, or Carlitos, for old times sake. We started talking about this and that and I told him I was DJing mostly cumbia nowadays and all of a sudden I had him talking about how much he loved Los Mirlos and Los Destellos and he owns lots of Peruvian cumbia in 7 inches. Then he told me that earlier this year he was invited to DJ at a cumbia event where Kumbia Queers played. And right after that talk, I went back to digging through the boxes of 7 inches and the first thing I found is a cumbia record! Yes! A cumbia 7 inch record in a punk rock store... for free! Yup, they have a box of free stuff and there it was, a 1983 single from the group Los Telefonistas, pressed by Ramex in Texas. The song itself is pretty wack, but hey, it's a cumbia 7 inch and it's free! I kept digging and found a bunch more interesting stuff, but no more cumbia. I need to go back and double check.
Later, Boom Boom Kid gave a semi-acoustic show because the drummer quit the band the night before, but with just one guitar he was still able to amaze me with his usual super energetic performance (sans the usual stage diving and crowd surfing). After the show, I bought his newest CD, called Frisbee (it actually comes attached to a real frisbee disc as packaging) and he also has a new limited edition 7'' called Benjui Jamboree (in clear vinyl!) with five songs recorded with his US back up band, Los Gummy Bears and of course it was the first thing I played when I got home and the first song that comes out is, oh surprise, a cumbia! Ok, maybe not a cumbia per se, it's missing the güiro sound, but the rhythm is definitely a cumbia.
BBK official site: http://boomboomkid.info/