Friday, February 27, 2009

On this week, 20 years ago



Growing up in South America in the 1980s, little in the way of metal was readily available to us. The tapes my brother and I owned back then were tenth generation dubs, and the Metal Hammer magazines we cherished were extremely hard to come by. The damn magazines cost five times the price printed on the cover, they were at least two years old by the time we bought them, and were often missing most pages by the time they made it to the store. I know I sound like an old man, the type who constantly tells the story about how when he was a kid he had to, "walk up hill in the snow both ways in order to get to school." But see, I AM an old man. As a matter of fact, here's a picture of me with wearing my Cannibal Corpse leotard after I did some shopping at my local supermarket.



So you see, I can't help myself. I'm old(er) and I now tell war stories to everyone. Look, I'm merely trying to paint a picture here, so give me a chance. Metal was beyond underground and obscure during the late 80s in most South American countries. So few people knew about it, that they guarded whatever information or music they had with all their might. The metal scene was made up of very secretive, often scary individuals. To give you an idea of how tough it was to get your hands on music, I can tell you that no record store sold anything heavier than Def Leppard. Perhaps the greatest source for metal music, a small record store (the size of closet, if you can call that a store) which was located downtown (over an hour away by bus for my brother and I) sold Betamax copies of bootleg videos and tapes of albums. Upon paying a ridiculous sum of money, you would be able to pick up your copy of the tape as late as a month after. Oftentimes, you never got your tape, and ended up paying the very same guy who had just ripped you off for yet another tape.

Why do I tell you all this? Because I'm about to tell you that the first major metal concert I went to was by none other than Quiet Riot....and I want to give you some context so that you don't laugh at me for too long.


Looks like these guys owned a ton of sock in the mill that produced striped fabrics.


Right now, you're probably saying to yourself: "What? I thought this was a blog about metal? Quiet Riot? What?" Believe me, I understand your point. But what I'm asking you to trust me on, is that even though most of us were well aware of bands like Cryptic Slaughter, Venom, Whiplash, Celtic Frost and Tankard back then, the idea of a big time band coming to our lowly country was a huge event. This was even true if the band was weak and sucked. We knew they sucked. By early 1989, Quiet Riot were washed up...even for Quiet Riot standards, and thus they ended up playing some shows in South America to pay for their rent. What in other countries would not have even been news, became a huge deal in our backwards corner of the universe. Like a monkey who drinks its own urine due to a lack of fresh water, my brother and I went to the show to see Quiet Riot, all as a result of not having access to "real" bands.




The concert took place in a large arena, with a pretty good local band opening up. The opening band sounded a bit like Maiden, and we were all pretty excited about that. My brother and I were young, and my mom was way cool, so she went with us. The show took place on Ash Wednesday (hence the image at the top). South America being a wildly catholic part of the planet, nearly every single person at the concert (about 10,000 in attendance) had the cross given to them by a priest on their forehead. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but when you consider that many dudes at the concert kinda' looked like this (see below) it was certainly kinda' funny.



No matter how metal, South Americans know that if they don't get their cross on ash wednesday, their mom will kill them. Luckily, my mom was cool and didn't care that we didn't go get one. We never did, and we never went to church, an absolute oddity for south american standards.

In retrospect, its weird to think that one of my first experiences with heavy live music for me was Quiet Riot. I saw many bands play live before that, some great ones, but they're not worth discussing in a metal blog. So, I'm a bit embarrassed about all this, but I ask you to take into account that the time and place where this happened was and is very different from the environment most of us call home today, and very different from what most of you called home growing up. Had I been able to, I would have surely seen some sick bands around then...but none were around. Thus, like the monkey, I drank urine instead of water. You may think I'm stretching the truth a bit when I tell you it was cool to go see Quiet Riot, but believe me when I tell you that a few other thousand metal dudes, some rocking Sodom shirts and bullet belts, were there with me. And we all loved it. That was then. Today, I am a different man. In fact, here's a picture of me at a recent metal fest.


28 comments:

  1. Interesting. I've always thought metal was huge in South America. Well, South America with the exception of Suriname. 99% of Surinamese people are allergic to rock music; they consider Coldplay to be extreme metal.

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  2. Lucho, you do a lot of reminiscing. I like it, it makes me think of the good old days of being a young Metaller. I just realized the other day that I've been listening to Slayer's Reign In Blood for 21 years. How do I know? Cos I wrote the date on the cassette cover after I recorded the local Library's copy. It still hasn't got old for me just yet though.

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  3. Now I'm no fag, but you rockin' the unitard makes me question my sexuality. I think in your native language they call it " muy caliente" !!!

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  4. I am curious...what South American country do you hail from? Some like Chile have happen metal now a days. Thanks.

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  5. metal was big, but hard to find back then. people were, and are arduous fans...but it was insanely underground. what country am i from? that's a deep dark mystery. Let's just say that I'm not from Suriname or Guyana. Those guys are posers!!!

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  6. Alex, I just found the copy of Reign In Blood that my brother and I got in 1988-89. I want to photograph it to post about it. It's a beautiful relic at this point.

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  7. Hmmm, I've never seen people with the black cross on their foreheads on Easter before I came to the US a couple of years ago. I had to ask what that was to an American friend that got one. So I'd say you are not from Argentina. Also, Argentina was in a hyperinflation in 1989, so I'm pretty sure it was not a good business even for Quiet Riot to come and play there. I remember they played in Buenos Aires in 1984 and people went crazy and there were some problems, but I know that from the newspaper, since I was 7-8 years old at the time and music wasn't a priority (but playmobils were). Anyway, people in Buenos Aires are not religious (in general), so you must be from another country. Sorry Lucho about this, it's just that I always wonder where you and your brother are from. I'm not trying to be an ass.

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  8. Besides the obvious cheese factor of most Heavy Metal bands of the early 80s, I think they offer up a solid standard tribute rocknroll, they were simply a product of the evolution of what chuck berry, robert johnson, elvis, the beatles, led zep, black sabb started up, only more sugar coated for mtv. There are no rock standards anymore, instead of QR or Van Halen or Motley Crue on the radio we have katey perry, avril lavigne, fallout boy, godsmack, disturbed, av7x.. the embarrasing list goes on and fucking on...

    I remember QR all washed up and heading towards Colombia, with their terrible, I think, III album. They were on the news/radio all the time getting hyped into the stratosphere. I couldn't part with the money that I'd rather spend on several vinyl imports though! the whole priest and the cross to the foreheads was something I didn't know about though, wish there wsd some video of that!
    thanks for the memories Lucho! Great article if a bit short... keep it up coming!

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  9. oh yeah one more thing I forgot to mention... Rudy Sarzo is a kick ass bass player he probably could give Steve Harris a run for his stripped spandex back in the day.

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  10. Way too short.
    I was hoping it would culminate into some crazy shit about QR
    playing "metal health" and causing some kinda audience tragedy ala Altimont.

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  11. Although I didn´t grow up in a "metal developing country" and a fair share of bands came to play shows in my small town, there was one event that was like the culmination point of my metal youth: a Guns N Roses (plus Faith No More and Soundgarden) show in 1992. Even though at that time I had already discovered the joys of thrash and deathmetal and looked down on GNR-fans, my parents gave me a ticket for my 16th birthday. Lots of guys I knew that didn´t like GNR neither went as well, and while our girlfriends got wet over Axl Rose, we stood around discussing how shitty GNR were. It was the biggest rock show I have ever been to, and it didn´t matter wether you liked the bands or not, it was just THE place to be at the time. As Would be Visionary said correctly, at least back then the commercial bands could still be seen as rock n´roll, while the shitty bands of nowadays just play pop music with some heavy guitars.

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  12. You like an introspective guy, judging by that last picture, Lucho.

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  13. En esa gira, Quiet Riot tocó en la ciudad donde yo vivía en esa época: Pereira,Colombia. La otra "gran" banda que vino a la ciudad fue Barón Rojo de España. En esa época, el metal era un movimiento gigante sobre todo en cuanto al Thrash -via cassete copiado-, a los que les gustaba el Death Metal de los 80s se les llamaba "ultreros"!

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  14. Baron Rojo! Solamente en España y sur america eran gran cosa. Y todavia andan por ahi!

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  15. I went to Buenos Aires about five years ago with my wife. I too sensed that it was not as catholic of a country. i think the rest of south america is highly catholic, while at the same time not being as religous as americans are. it's as though catholicism is integrated into south american's creed...without being religious. anyway, the buenos aires was great. Had a fantastic time, and even went to a Boca / River game in the famed Bombonera. Seemed to me that Rata Blanca were pretty huge, and I picked up a CD. I spent a good bit of time in flea markets around the city hunting down old Soda Stereo vinyl...but that's a story for another post. sorry that the post was short...i was short on time...and i never think people will actually read my ramblings.

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  16. Totally true about religion in South America and the US. That was one thing that immediately called my attention about America: I was expecting a country that didn't care much about religion, but I found that it is quite the contrary. People liking Bush because he is a Christian (redneck applies) is something that goes beyond me. Anyway, Rata Blanca are huge in Argentina. At some point (like in 1992-1993) they were playing in Stadiums for 40,000 people. Now they aren't as popular, but they still have a huge fan base. I think classic heavy and power metal are the most popular metal styles there (still!). I never understood why.

    A Soda stereo post...that could be interesting...

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  17. That picture of "Chris Barnes" might be my favorite MI picture.

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  18. i was born and raised roman catholic. i was baptised, received first communion, and confirmation. growing up my family went to church every sunday (should be considered child abuse) because my grandmother was super religious and involved in all kinds of church shit, but as soon as she died my family because holiday catholics. the only time my parents go to church anymore is christmas, easter, and funerals. when i was younger i got the ash on my forehead a couple times, but i'm so clueless about that shit now that when someone walked into my job earlier this week with ash on their forehead i thought he'd just finished working a construction job. i had no clue it was ash wednesday.

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  19. on the radio we have katey perry, avril lavigne, fallout boy, godsmack, disturbed, av7x

    alternate title: list of bands i like

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  20. it's as though catholicism is integrated into south american's creed...without being religious.

    as i said to my friend once about brazilian fighter Anderson Silva, "he's super catholic, but it doesn't bother me because he's south american so i know he doesn't really believe in it, he just does all the rituals so his mom won't yell at him."

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  21. for the most part, particularly in the middle class in most south american countries, catholicism is merely part of the regional identity, and it has blended effortlessly with other parts of who south americans are as a people. food, language, traditions, music, dance..and right in there is this thing called catholicism, which is just part of it. if think if american catholics saw how south americans "practice", they would loose it. its a mish mash of native rituals, catholicism and who knows what else.

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  22. lucho, thanks for using the "sarcofago" tag. it caused me to re-read the A+++ post about professor wagner lamounier!

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  25. THIS is what being into metal and extreme music was like, in South America, in the 80s and 90s, was like.

    http://bloodonthesky.blogspot.com/2008/08/this-blog-could-be-your-life.html

    Oh, the fun of removing my own comments!!!

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  26. Very old news but interesting .

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