After the tragedy of defunct record shops (sob), we lucked out by stumbling across an online listing for a punk show in Palermo Viejo. It was a single-band show: En Tu Recto, a supergroup (of sorts) comprising members of other local bands, playing exclusively covers of songs by the classic Basque punk band La Polla Records. Their first EP, "Y Ahora Que?", one of the rarest Spanish punk records, is among our favorites. This band pretty much invented what is now called Basque rock radikal. Our pal Paco tells a funny story about how La Polla Records played a huge gig in his hometown south of Madrid in the 80s, deep in olive-farming country, and rather than being paid in cash, they took home a truckload of olive oil. (Total communal living! I'll buy the tofu and you cook it!)
So we hopped in a cab for a short ride to the show at Salón Pueyrredon on Av. Sante Fe. We knew we were close when we saw a skinhead in the shadows, peeing on a tree. Sure enough, the next corner was overrun with punkitos. We didn't know what to expect but we were eager to have a look around the show space. As the bouncers searched their bags, the kids in front of us at the door had to relinquish an enormous can of spraypaint (think the biggest can of Aquanet you've ever seen and then double it). Up a flight of stairs and we were inside a century-old (or more) space that could've been an old tanguería, or else a private gentleman's club for gambling and other, um, gentlemanly businesses. There were four high-ceilinged rooms and a bar bearing a sign that told us that no se vende cerveza—damn. The front room was the smoking room. And how. The middle room (with the bar), which was an atrium, included a dark staircase to another floor or two, but it was too dark and vertigo-inducing to see what was up there. The next room was sort of an anteroom for the actual show space, where there was a distro that sold exclusively photocopies of old anarchist manifestos and bootleg punk patches. And then the main room was probably 30' x 50'. Needless to say, no rock club in New York is quite as regal.
Before the band began to play, a La Polla Records documentary was projected on a screen. I noticed that the punters, mostly younger than us, were almost exclusively wearing La Polla Records shirts. The all-over print ones were pretty cool. Some shirts were obviously cherished and well-worn. In the US, wearing the shirt of the band that is playing is considered a faux-pas; in this case, La Polla wasn't playing exactly, so we unfortunately cannot discern whether that stigma exists down here as well. Other band logos adorning jackets and shirts were Eskorbuto and Ramones, who are apparently so huge here that you can make a whole album of, ahem, bossa nova Ramones covers:
Just to reiterate, this was a cover-band show, something we've never attended at home and would probably avoid except maybe on Halloween. So the unfamiliarity of being at a punk show thousands of miles from home was compounded by it being a sort of show that we might not quite consider punk were it in our hometown. That unfamiliarity burned off quite quickly once En Tu Recto (who are named for an extremely late La Polla LP) began to play. Immediately, the instantly recognizable swirling sea of bad haircuts in front of the stage reminded us that punk really is universal.
Every kid in the room knew every word to every song.
By the time they got to the last song, we were singing along as well, and we went home reeking of smoke and totally sober, but completely happy.