One of the goals I wanted to achieve when my friends and I took over Austin Vida three years ago was to change the way people viewed what a “Latin” band was and/or how Latino musicians were perceived. Sure we pay our respects to grandfather Tejano and love large member, mini-Latin orchestra style salsa bands. It’s all part of our culture. The staff and I love it and embrace it. However, here in Austin many Latino bands and musicians are in bands that are influenced by more by popular sounds from American rock and roll and European-based electronic music or new wave. For lack of a better word, they are in indie bands.
While Austin’s local music scene is made up of indie bands of some sort, whether it be ’60s style garage rock or post-something, few notice how many Latino musicians are present. As we individually or collectively attended local shows over the years, we noticed more and more up-and-coming indie bands were comprised of either all Latino members or the majority of Latino members. Most, if not all, were also singing in English. None, however, were being featured in Spanish language media or other Latino media outlets. Again, another inspiration for us to continue to do what do and break down stereotypes.
Latinos are more indie than ever and we decided to showcase young Latino indie bands on the website and in live music showcases we produced. Our third Free Week showcase this year was our indie showcase at a great new to music venue, Frank. We featured two of Austin’s best young indie bands, Vinyl Dharma and headliners Politics. We filled in the gaps with openers Friday Avenue from Brownsville, Texas, and arguably the best young indie band in San Antonio, Pop Pistol. While neither wave their brown fist or sing in Spanish, there is no denying their ethnicity, cultural pride nor their talent. These four bands are emblematic of the new generation of Latinos in Austin.
All photos by Kristie Bocanegra.