“Mexican pride rocks at the Aragon”
By Benjamin Ortiz, Special to the Tribune

Section: Tempo
Date: April 28, 2008

Just past midnight at an Aragon Ballroom breaking out in wall-to-wall slam pits, the supershow “Mexicanos al Grito de Rock” had nearly the entire chock-a-block crowd singing the Mexican National Anthem, complete with patriotic gritos (cries) of “¡Que viva México!” to shake the stage like majestic cannonade.
It was not only a pre-Cinco de Mayo celebration but also practice for the upcoming May Day march, flash points for Mexican nationalism and hard-core righteous fury about the treatment of Latino immigrants in the U.S., themes not lost on any of the six bands (mostly from Mexico City) that played from roughly from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. for an audience seriously rocking the red, white and green.
Frocked in nationalistic T-shirts, lucha libre wrestling masks, soccer jerseys and even the Mexican flag itself draped like a cape, the mainly twentysomething rockeros sported all the cultural commonplaces of the motherland, reinterpreted in Chicago as pride in home, hearth and long hair. As one T-shirt put it, “May the Virgin of Guadalupe bless the rock-and-roll band.”
The lineup paid tribute to the elder trio Heavy Nopal, which announced an “Asalto Chido” (“Attack of the Cool”), singing a tune made famous by Mexico’s Bob Dylan-esque “Rockdrigo” Gonzalez. Doling out raunchy blues-simmered cabaret rock like a geriatric garage band, Heavy Nopal warned the crowd, “Don’t ever stop being rock ‘n’ rollers but, above all, don’t ever stop being Mexican!” This was immediately followed by Hispanic versions of the Eagles and Bob Seger.
Call it MEXimum R&B.
Spinning between sets, local DJ Fuego held it all together with a sonic time trip through Mexico’s rock odyssey, and the onslaught of band-upon-band oscillated from Sturm und Drang metal (Luzbel) to grungy rock (Liran’ Roll and Banda Bostik) and finally Afro-beat-inspired ska (Panteon Rococo).
Just like stateside, rock long ago in Mexico was once considered anti-establishment, and greñudos (long-hairs) were a threat to the image of traditional folkways. Now, it’s a show of national identity to embrace rock and roots in one crunching power chord.

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