Top 10 Underground Latino Bands in Los Angeles

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Ska music is dearly beloved by Latino kids in Los Angeles, and it has a huge presence in Latin American countries like Mexico as well. Locally, there is no better band to exemplify this phenomena than Viernes 13. Show up to any of their shows and you’ll see why: their Spanish-sung masterpieces go from harmonized horn-heavy ballads about love lost and tequila – like their hit sing-along single Lagrimas de Agave – to bouncy, fast and fun beats about characters that like to drink, like Johnny Pistolero. No matter which song they play, you can count on their mosh pit to be full of skanking fans young and old (“skanking” is the official term for dancing to ska). Most importantly, these fans are friendly, so don’t be scared to jump in and push around.

Read about the other 9 Underground Latino Bands in Los Angeles at

El Chivo Expiatorio, Almalafa, Inspector, Viernes 13 at the Roxy, March 9

Story By Gustavo Arellano | L.A. Weekly
Thursday, Mar 13 2003

Something about ska piques the Mexican soul — but let Carlos Monsiváis ponder that one. Who else but the intellectual giant could explain Sunday’s sold-out Mexican skanker showcase at the Roxy? El Chivo Expiatorio started the slamfest with 1950s hot-rod revs, inappropriate facial histrionics and on-purpose stilted delivery that alternately provoked laughter and pogoing and reminded of Tenacious D. Then again, doubt Jack Black and Co. would ever bash Bush, call for an illegal immigrant amnesty or chirp “Don’t bomb Iraq!” on the catchiest jingle ever uttered outside a soap commercial. Slowing things down — but inciting the pit further — was Almalafa. Sure, the Ensenada dectet’s moody, tropical-laced scratches got repetitive quickly. And, yes, they sang a bit too much about marijuana’s joys. But Almalafa produced — when fans forgo the Roxy’s stage-dive ban, wrap themselves around lead singers and quiver like Pentecostals, a band has produced.

Then some unpleasant capitalism. Seemed many music moguls were in attendance to hear headliner Inspector, so Universal (Inspector’s label) pressured the concert’s promoter to have Southgate skankeros Viernes 13 bumped until after midnight. Viernes vehemently protested, arguing that there’d be no fans left for them. Didn’t matter — label honchos trump the locals any day. Inspector is the same band that had a Thursday-night appearance at Anaheim’s JC Fandango raided after fire inspectors found 500 people too many inside the club, and the prime reason the Roxy nearly encountered that problem also. This fan obsession is puzzling, however; their so-so ska was nothing Orange County didn’t spit out about six years ago.

And Viernes 13? Maybe 75 faithful lingered when lanky singer Jay P. appeared onstage around the witching hour. “I want to thank those who’re staying,” he told the audience. “Those who left — fuck them!” May their furious ska/punk bravura one day receive the respect it deserves.

Read the full article at L.A. Weekly

Ska Still Rules in L.A.! Just Ask Viernes 13

Story By Erica E. Phillips | L.A. Weekly
Friday, February 24, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Local eight-man ska band Viernes 13 started out playing backyard shows in Whittier and South Gate in the mid-90s. It makes sense, since those were the days when Reel Big Fish and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones ruled the airwaves. But as ska faded from top 40 radio, its popularity only kept growing in L.A.

“In the backyard South Gate scene, there weren’t a lot of bands playing what we were playing,” recalls guitarist and founding member Mario Luna.

It was mostly metal and punk, adds front man Juan “J.P.” Pulido. “When we’d go on stage with horns, people were like, ‘What the fuck?'”

You’d never know it now. In East L.A. and South L.A., “There’s like 13 ska bands on each block!” trombone player Ruben Durazo estimates, only slightly exaggerating.

Viernes 13 is a big reason for ska’s perseverance, though they’re too humble to say so. At their cozy Monterey Park rehearsal space, the guys scoffed at that suggestion.

“I guess we’re pretty well-known –” drummer Mikey Ornelas starts to say, before Pulido cuts him off. “I can’t even go to the store without getting recognized!” They all crack up, filling the tiny room.

Viernes 13 has practiced together here for years, meeting in the evenings after the guys finish up at their day jobs. Tours and shows sustain the band and have allowed them to record three albums and a collaborative record, but they aren’t getting rich.

As for their influences, the guys disagree. When keyboardist Francis “Bubba” Sanchez, Jr. mentions Reel Big Fish, the others pounce.

“I didn’t listen to that shit,” says Pulido.

“For me, it was all stuff from Mexico,” says Luna.

Durazo suggests that it was their parents’ American-influenced Latin music — the oldies of that generation — that was more important.

Despite their name — Viernes 13 translates to “Friday the 13” — Luna says they’ve been lucky to open for bands across the genre spectrum, from heavy metal to punk, reggae and rockabilly.

“This band has a lot of heart, and over everything that’s what you need,” says bass player Jesse Castro. The sentiment gets a big laugh from the rest of the guys, who chide his sincerity.

But then they launch into “Lágrimas de Agave,” one of their popular hits, and it’s obvious that they agree with him, whether they admit it or not. The song is big, loud and fun, with sweet and heartfelt lyrics.

“Blue tears fall from my eyes,” the chorus goes, translated. Pulido wails: “Now that I’ve lost you, I want you close to me.”

Viernes 13 plays tomorrow, Feb. 25 at Self Help Graphics & Art in Boyle Heights, 1300 E. 1st Street. All ages.

Follow us on Twitter @LAWeeklyMusic, and like us at LAWeeklyMusic.

Read the full article at L.A. Weekly

Best Ska Band Los Angeles 2013 – L.A. Weekly

Story By Juan Gutierrez | L.A. Weekly


It’s nearly impossible to cover a city this sprawling — 470 square miles of awesomeness, 6,499 miles of streets and 3.7 million residents, all of them seemingly on the 405 every time we need to get to the Skirball Center.

And so for this year’s Best of L.A. issue, we brought in some gifted reinforcements — a crackerjack team capable of leaping over skyscrapers, tossing aside all those freeway-clogging cars, and flying from San Pedro to Santa Clarita with only a cape for propulsion. They picked the best hiking trail, the best spa, the best lobster roll, and even the best mausoleum for a photo op — 440 items in all, making this our biggest and best issue yet.

The craziest part? L.A. is so amazing, we still barely scratched the surface.

Best Ska Band Los Angeles 2013

Having launched in 1999 while they were still in high school, East Los Angeles ska band Viernes 13 (that’s Friday the 13th to you, gringo) gained popularity over the years playing backyard shows but never put out an official full-length album. That will change later this year, when the group’s as-yet-untitled debut drops. But in the meantime their star has risen, and they now can be seen at big-money venues like the Roxy and House of Blues, performing alongside better-known groups like The Slackers, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Manic Hispanics. Viernes 13 differ from most ska bands through their use of bilingual lyrics, their incorporation of punk and lead singer Juan Pulido’s signature look — long hair, tied back with a bandanna. One thing’s for sure: Viernes 13’s lively stage presence and rowdy mosh pits set the tone for a party.

Read the full article at L.A. Weekly

Skacore Invasion Festival – Silver Lake – July 20, 2013

Story and Photos By David Monnich | L.A. Weekly
Monday, July 22, 2013 at 3:55 AM

Skacore Invasion
MadAve Grounds

The seventh annual Los Angeles Skacore Invasion took place last Saturday in Silver Lake. The one day festival mainly featured Southern California bands, both amateur and veteran, but also played host to several prominent international acts, including Mexico’s Sekta Core and Royal Club. The graffiti lined warehouse complex where it was held, called MadAve Grounds, accommodated about 1000 diehard ska fans.

Twenty bands were featured on two stages for this all-ages event, and no alcohol was sold, which might explain why there were only a few run-ins between fans and security. The smaller stage, Cage Platform, hosted the day’s younger acts, and a metal cage actually served as a barrier between the bands and the audience. Skank circles frequently formed outside of it, impressive in their scope and wildness. Erratic body movements and light pushing would spring up as the music began, growing in intensity over the course of a song, but rarely would anyone dance aggressively to the point of causing physical harm to a fellow reveler.


Highlights from this stage included Ekolekua, Hub City Trash and Masturbo. Ekolekua, a five piece ensemble out of East LA, interpreted ska through electronic and metal lenses. Compton’s Hub City Trash drew heavily from a garage rock influence and incorporated traditional Mexican touches. The stage’s final act, Masturbo, delved into the realms of dub and psychedelia, nonetheless inducing the crowd to slam dance.

The main stage was located at the front of the warehouses’ largest section, and fans packed the space to the brim. Around 5 PM, the crowd began to pick up for La Resistencia’s performance, and it continued to grow in number and intensity until close.

A string of five acts followed, which left the crowd exhausted and nearly deaf. Royal Club of Mexico City, going strong since 1994, exploded into their set. Lead singer Rafael Montoya’s use of accordion allowed them to mix traditional Mexican styles with hard core punk.

Riverside ska veterans Voodoo Glow Skulls had some sound issues at the beginning of their set, but front man Frank Casilla’s lucha libre mask and hyped up stage presence compensated for any technical mishaps. Their cover of “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book was raw yet tightly executed.

Mexico’s Sekta Core was the most sonically powerful band of the night. Their use of heavily distorted guitar, accelerated rhythms and boisterous vocals moved the crowd to a frenzy. Skank and slam circles raged to their fullest, and lead singer Jorge Salcedo, who also performed earlier with Royal Club, yelled and barked into the microphone.

After Sektacore’s performance, Raskahuele provided a nice contrast with its use of keyboards/organ and slower reggae rhythms. Their positive vibrations kept up the crowd’s energy, which translated perfectly to the night’s final act, Viernes 13. The L.A. natives received a loud ovation as they took the stage and immediately flew into their set, which was unfortunately shortened due to other bands going past their time allotment. “Rosa Sola” featured lightning speed guitar work, and they closed with crowd favorite “Johnny Pistolero.”

One of the most impressive aspects of Skacore Invasion was the level of energy and dedication shown by the audience. During any given set, multitudes sang along to every word. Many of these bands have developed loyal fan bases over the course of years, and it definitely showed.

Read the full article at L.A. Weekly

Going to a Ska Show? Here’s What to Wear

Story By Juan Gutierrez | L.A. Weekly
Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 3:45 AM

o you want to go to a ska show. Or maybe you want to start a ska band. Good for you! Now the question is: What should you wear? Because, nothing will identify you as an impostor faster than a wack outfit.

The first thing to know: Since ska is derivative of many other musical genres, ska fashion is also a mishmash of styles. Ska arose in early ’60s Jamaica, combining elements of jazz, rock, swing, and other snippets from U.S. radio. But it soon moved around the globe, and after a heyday in white America in the ’90s it’s now quite popular in Latino L.A.

Ska fashion, meanwhile, ranges from the classic two tone styles of the British skinhead scene to the dapper wears of L.A’s backyard punk scene. Let’s take a closer look.


What to wear: Fly Blazer

When it comes to shirts, styles include the basic white tank top, flannels, band shirts, or even that nice checkered v-neck sweater your grandmother gave you. To tell the truth, most any hipster clothes will do.


How to wear them: Roll up the cuffs

Cuffed pants reflect the influence of old rock ‘n roll, and tight trousers — even ripped jeans — will fit in great. You can even class it up with some slacks a la the two-tone style of The Specials.


What to wear: Kick ass boots

Actually, acceptable footwear can range from classic Vans and Chucks (preferably checkered and black and white) to boots, loafers, Doc Martens eight-hole boots or Gibsons — plain black, oxblood or cherry red.

Read the full story at L.A. Weekly

Dispatches From the Viernes 13 Booze Cruise

Story By Juan Gutierrez | L.A. Weekly
Monday, June 3, 2013 at 4:00 AM

Rock the Boat LA, featuring Viernes 13

Long Beach Harbor

May 31, 2013

Underground ska band Viernes 13 — which means Friday the 13th, you gringo — incorporate elements of punk and rockabilly. On Friday night, for a booze cruise called Rock the Boat LA, they performed on a boat called the Grand Romance that departed from Long Beach Harbor.

The ship had three floors, two dance floors, two bars, and, fittingly, a shit-ton of booze. There were also people smoking pot and a wild mosh pit. The night went something like this:

Juan Jose Gutierrez-Romero

Juan Jose Gutierrez-Romero

11:00pm: At the harbor, people are waiting to board the boat pre-gaming — the ceremonial act of getting drunk before getting drunk. I am one of them.

11:15pm: I board the boat, to the sounds of new wave, cumbia, Spanish rock, and “Ice Ice Baby.”

11:20pm: The boat starts up and we begin to move.

11:50pm: Opening band the Paranoias start their set, coming on with full vigor and energy; some begin skanking (almost like a drunken attempt at moonwalking) and I somehow do not spill my drink. Their drummer is surprisingly turned up.

11:55pm: Ok now I’m spilling my drink.

12:05am: The Paranoais set over, I head up to the third floor dance area and, in a very inebriated manner, attempt to dance salsa. I nearly fall down.

12:23am: Viernes 13 are getting ready to go. Their lead singer screams out, “Let’s party, you have nowhere else to go, you’re stuck in this boat, so fuck it!” He continues: “I just took some shots of tequila, let’s get drunk, some of you might get DUI’s though!”

12:45am: He later shouts out all the people in his life that should’ve been in jail, including his beloved mother.

12:55am: A mosh pit forms. People begin to skank, shove, and jump. I try to earn my skankin’ legs. The band goes into a full fury, getting the crowd even more hyped up. There’s now a full-on mosh.

1:20am: Viernes 13 perform the song “The Lucky Juan.” Awesome. I didn’t even realize they knew I was here.

1:45am: They segue into the slow-tempo “Lagrimas De Agave.” Painful and awkward memories of high school come to mind.

2:10am: The band ends with the song “Johnny Pistolero,” going out with, of course, a bang. The tired skankers give it their all, and never has the smell of weed, booze, sweat, and the ocean, all mixed together, been so strong. I down the last of my Jack and Coke.

2:30am: The boat docks and the drunken crowd spills out. “You don’t have to go home,” says the security guard, “but you have get the fuck out of here!”

Personal Bias: The song “Lagrimas de Agave” reminds me of a girl who stood me up back in high school.

Overheard in the Crowd: “You never take a bitch you really like to a pool party.” Good to know!

Random Notebook Dump: I’m on a boat!

Set List:
Los Cuernos del Diablo
Crocodile Tears
Chrome .45
Old News
Workin’ Man’s Chant
Pierdete Chica
Slow and Low
Ultimas Palabras
The Lucky Juan
Jessie Castro
Rude Caddy
Lagrimas De Agave
Rosa Sola
Christine Keller
Just Move
Bailando Con La Muerte
John E. Pistolero

Read the full article at L.A. Weekly

Viernes 13 Episode 7:

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This is

The website has finally been updated. It was long over due but it’s finally here. This will be the place to visit for all Viernes 13 information. The website will include all of the content we have in one convient place. You’ll be able to see all of our videos, live audio, photo gallery and news updates. The website will be the main hub bringing in content from all of the many different social media sites that we are on.

Speaking of social media, we are happy to announce that we have finally joined the Instagram world. find us on Instagram @vienes_trece. This will be just another place where you can see what Viernes 13 is up to.

Another major improvement to our site is our new webstore powered by Ecommerce. The new store is upgraded and user friendly making it easier to navigate through all of our products. More products will be added to our store shortly.

Ask a Mexican on Ska Music in Mexico

Story By Gustavo Arellano | Phoenix New Times

Lately, I’ve noticed a few bands, como Voodoo Glow Skulls, have embraced ska music in both at home and in Mexico. I was curious what the appeal is for Mexicans to ska music? Also, if you had to turn people to Mexican ska, what would be your top five recommendations?
Tommy Milagros

You just noticed Voodoo Glow Skulls? While cool, they’re so 1990s. In fact, the ska tendencies in Mexico go back to the early days of ska itself — like the Cuban mambo, danzón, and cha-cha-cha, Jamaican music has always had a vibrant home in Mexico due to our shared Afro-Caribbean influences. Like all popular Mexican music forms, ska is endlessly danceable, upbeat even in its darkest moments, perpetually customizable, and a DJ’s dream — sonidero is really just cumbia mixed through a Studio One dub sound system. But Mexican ska’s greatest contribution to the form is the mixing of punk attitude and political commentary, à la 2 Tone ska, making it a genre that never gets tiresome. As for my top five Mexican ska groups: the late Tijuana No! is sorely missed, Maldita Vecindad still blasts their chilango stew, and Los Angeles’ own Viernes 13 are chingones with horns. I’ll also give a shout-out to Inspector, although their ska is a bit too clean for my tastes. But the supreme masters are Panteón Rococo — their jittery, angry, anti-globalization “La Carencia” could be the anthem of the Occupy movement, if only those occupiers ever bothered to reach out to Mexicans.

I lived in San Diego for about three years but got down to Tijuana only once. The thing that struck me the most was that it seemed all the women who were begging were Indian (I’m not going to try any Spanish spelling, since I spoke español with a terrible New Zealand Korean accent when I first arrived — don’t ask). Why is this?
Linda en Fuego

Because the poverty rates of the indigenous in Mexico are atrocious: A 2010 study by Coneval (the acronym for Mexico’s National Social Development Policy Evaluation Council — quick aside for gabachos: the Mexican government loves to assign acronyms to its agencies) found nearly 80 percent of Mexicans who spoke an indigenous language lived in poverty. Until the Mexican government improves the lives of its indigenous, they have about as much right to complain about U.S. treatment of Mexicans as America has to complain about San Francisco Giants star Sergio Romo wearing a “I Just Look Illegal” T-shirt during his team’s World Series victory parade — eres chingón, güey!

I work at the welfare office, and I’ve noticed that all my Mexican clients are much more organized than gabacho clients. They always bring all the necessary documentation and never whine about how much of a pain in the ass the system is. Is that because they’re used to dealing with incredibly inept and inefficient bureaucracies that inevitably lose paperwork, files, etc. (at least they’re not bribed in order to get state-funded assistance), or is there something else going on?
Goverment Cheesemonger

To paraphrase Grandpa Simpson, when asked if he was stalling for time or senile when insisting he was the Lindbergh baby, a poquito from column A, a little de columna B. Unlike Tea Party pendejos or welfare leeches, Mexicans — but especially viejitos — understand that trips to the DMV, Social Security, or the welfare office aren’t necessary evils but rather moments of seriousness — you don’t fuck around with the government, unless you’re jumping over the border or using your cousin’s Social Security number. Besides, Mexicans know that government workers are the Mexicans of government — constantly shat upon, ridiculed by conservatives, and hardly paid enough for all the ridicule and bureaucracy they must endure. Gotta treat your brother from another madre with respect, you know?

Read the original post at Phoenix New Times

Story By Gustavo Arellano | Phoenix New Times
Gustavo Arellano is the editor of OC Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Orange County, California, author of Orange County: A Personal History andTaco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, and lecturer with the Chicana and Chicano Studies department at California State University, Fullerton. He writes “¡Ask a Mexican!,” a nationally syndicated column in which he answers any and all questions about America’s spiciest and largest minority.