Mexico City’s Crimen Arrive in the U.S. for New York’s Latino Punk Fest – Exclusive Interview and Photos
Last night, Crimen, a punk band from Mexico City, stirred up more emotion than any live band we've seen in a long, long time.
The band was playing the stage at 538 Johnson, a DIY venue in Brooklyn, as part of the NYC Latino Punk Fest, closing out three days and five shows of Latino punk. Crimen played speed-metal influenced punk, in the vein of bands like Motorhead and Black Flag, as the rabid audience pushed through the circle pit and hurled full beer cans at each other. (Also on the bill were Kantuta from New Jersey, Alimanas of Texas, Rayos X from Los Angeles and Panama's Juventud Podrida.)
Crimen ("crime" in Spanish) have been on the Mexican punk scene since 2008, but this was their first show ever in the U.S. We asked them how it compared to the shows they play in Mexico. "It was a Latino punk fest, so it was very much the feeling I get in Mexico," said bassist and singer Alex Rivas. "We're in New York, but the vibe was similar."
We wondered if they were at all surprised to see so many fans screaming along to their songs. "I was for sure surprised, it's always nice to see people come out," said Rivas, who said he knows lots of the other bands playing just from being part of the "worldwide community" of punk. It was clear, too, that people knew them, especially as the crowd shouted along to 'Nida de Punta Ratas,' which, according to Google Translate, means, roughly, 'Rat Hole Whore.'
Venues like 538 Johnson are par-for-the-course in the Brooklyn scene, where gigs are often hosted at apartments or squats, and (like last night's show) gruff dudes and skinny kids bearing nose rings and mohawks drink tall beers and pump their fists. Aside from the amount of Spanish being spoken, it was a typical scene.
We asked Rivas how it compared to Mexico City. "Lately the hardcore scene in Mexico City has been really good, lots of young kids playing who are actually very good," Rivas said. "Back in the early 2000s, there was really not that much going on with DIY punk. But right now it's very cool."
Gibran Andrade, who plays drums for Crimen, also talked about the Mexico City scene.
"It's really hard to do squatting and DIY shows in Mexico because punk in Mexico means something else," he told us as we stood outside in front of the hulking warehouse that holds the second-floor venue. "It's more for the lower-class type of people, and it has a different meaning. They actually don't give a s--- about DIY because they can't. Life is just too f---ed up over there for some people."
"[Punk] is just an escape from s---ty lives. It's hard to get to school and if you want to go to a good school, you have to pay a lot of money. [So] punk reaches the poorest people in Mexico. It's a different way of viewing it. We don't do it to get paid."
Despite all that, Andrade, who joined the band last year, was clearly just excited to be able to play before a crowd that felt familiar. "I just really like it, man. Crimen was one of my favorite bands before I got in, and I got really lucky. I really like it."
Check out some of our exclusive photos from the show.