The Latin punk band that put a fierce melody to the protests in L.A.
On a moving truck, the five members of Vandalize played furious tunes to accompany the crowd that had gathered in George Floyd's name.
More than just a city in Los Angeles County, Pico de Rivera is the historic epicenter of punk rock in Southern California. It was home to legendary bands like Circle One, whose singer, John Macias, was a hardcore icon, who came down from the stage to quell the fights and became the protector of the youngest punks.
It's no wonder then that Vandalize, heirs to punk as a true call to rebellion against the oppressions of the system are from Pico de Rivera. Nor is it any wonder that they wanted to do their bit to help the protests over George Floyd's death in L.A., even if they had to get together again.
The show was historic. They appeared last Saturday on the streets of downtown L.A. in a pickup truck, with a gas generator and the guitar and drums thundering as protesters went crazy and danced to their Power Violence songs. It was a way to channel violence and make it the engine of a peaceful revolution. The soundtrack of the oppressed.
"We were just improvising," driver and former band member Josh Alexander told LA Taco. "It was a last-minute idea."
But they managed to revive the spirit of Rage Against the Machine when Los Angeles rose up in 2000 during the Democratic Convention to protest corporate greed and oil company abuses, among many other causes.
"In times of rebellion and turmoil, Vandalize felt it was the appropriate act to perform and embody," said one of the hosts of the Ey Foo You a Rocker podcast on Latin identity and punk. While the other half of the duo, Vladimir Santos, said: "You can bring a player and blow up a playlist or you can jump on a truck and play a soundtrack for the oppressed with some fucking Power Violence. It's an incredibly powerful image."
For them and Shawn Stern, leader of the pioneering punk band Youth Brigade, Vandalize's sudden, thunderous performance represents the essence and future of punk, an act of "musical rebellion." In addition to the DIY-ethic based on questioning authority and fighting against the fascism that has threatened the U.S. since the arrival of Donald Trump, in the midst of a pandemic and after the latest racist murders, it's the last straw.
"If we all stand together we can be a positive force for change," Stern said.