(Originally published on MOLI 6/20/8)
New York, London, LA, Athens, San Francisco, Detroit, DC, Hialeah. Among the cities that can be name-checked in a punk-rock roll call, South Floridaâ€™s heavily Cuban American municipality is generally pretty low on the list. Hia-fucking-leah â€“ as itâ€™s lovingly known on a popular Miami T-shirt â€“ is known more for being the birthplace of the 1970s proto-disco Miami sound (K.C. and the Sunshine Band, etc.) and chongas than for wearers of Mohawks and chanters of â€œhey-ho, letâ€™s go.â€
The band Guajiro is out to change that. Thursday night, opening for a sold-out Rancid concert at Fort Lauderdaleâ€™s Revolution, the four-piece played a vigorous bilingual set in which they name-checked Hialeah on the song â€œMulatona.â€ They also debuted the new band Final Reformation â€“ Guajiro minus singer Willy Lopez plus singer Joe Koontz from Against All Authority.
But most notably, they led the moshpit through a chant of their new single â€œOlÃ© (Latinos for Hope)â€ (being released by I Scream Records on June 24). The anthem turns a futbol chant into an endorsement for Barack Obama, and translates Obamaâ€™s catchphrase â€œYes We Canâ€ into the riff â€œSi Se Puede.â€
Guajiro has made a powerful, will.i.am-style video for OlÃ©that mixes shots of the presidential candidate with video of Guajiroâ€™s sweaty members — Lopez, Jorges Gonzalez Graupera, David Santos, and Dougla’ MacKinnon.
Lots of musicians, of course, are getting on the Obama train; some Latin stars already recorded a video for him. But the presumptive Democratic nominee doesnâ€™t usually get a lot of love from South Floridaâ€™s conservative exile community; in fact, today, some of Elian Gonzalezâ€™s relatives (oh God, here they go again!) are holding a press conference against the senator because he has advisors who didnâ€™t believe the boy was brought here by dolphins to be safe from Fidel.
â€œTonight itâ€™s about hope,â€ Lopez told the crowd Thursday night. Itâ€™s hard to say whether the stylized youths got it â€“ I did see one kid in an Obama T-shirt, but unfortunately, so many of these third-generation punk fans follow the fashion of the Exploited, but not the politics of the Clash. Rocking for voting is a gutsy move for some Hialeah punks. Ole!