Hialeah Punks for Hope

(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 Florida’s heavily Cuban American municipality is generally pretty low on the list. Hia-fucking-leah – as it’s lovingly known on a popular Miami T-shirt – 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 “hey-ho, let’s go.”

The band Guajiro is out to change that. Thursday night, opening for a sold-out Rancid concert at Fort Lauderdale’s Revolution, the four-piece played a vigorous bilingual set in which they name-checked Hialeah on the song “Mulatona.” They also debuted the new band Final Reformation – 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 “Olé (Latinos for Hope)” (being released by I Scream Records on June 24). The anthem turns a futbol chant into an endorsement for Barack Obama, and translates Obama’s catchphrase “Yes We Can” into the riff “Si Se Puede.”

Guajiro has made a powerful, will.i.am-style video for Oléthat mixes shots of the presidential candidate with video of Guajiro’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 doesn’t usually get a lot of love from South Florida’s conservative exile community; in fact, today, some of Elian Gonzalez’s relatives (oh God, here they go again!) are holding a press conference against the senator because he has advisors who didn’t believe the boy was brought here by dolphins to be safe from Fidel.

“Tonight it’s about hope,” Lopez told the crowd Thursday night. It’s hard to say whether the stylized youths got it – 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!

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