Words by Emilia D’Albero | Photos by Michel Dussack
In an age where it’s trendy for bands to brazenly advertise a bullshit political agenda (looking at you, Muse), usually as a tactic to sell albums, it’s refreshing to know that there are a few groups out there who actually believe in what they’re selling. Or at least, it seems that way. Desaparecidos are no newcomers to this; when they first entered the scene with their 2002 debut Read Music/Speak Spanish, it was clear that they had a message and weren’t afraid to spread it. Capitalism is bad! The consumer culture is turning us into materialistic zombies! It’s not just something white guys with dreadlocks and stick ‘n poke tattoos yell about on the subway- they might actually be onto something here. And they’re still onto it, 13 years later, with the release of their sophomore album Payola, a decidedly more aggressive attack on the inequality that plagues this country. If anything, the release of Payola coupled with the events of the last few years have only proved that Desaparecidos knew what the fuck they were talking about back in 2002, when it wasn’t trendy yet.
The band, fronted by Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes fame, appeared at Webster Hall on August 6th, joined by The Band Droidz, who describe themselves as “a band based in New York, with a New York soul, real New York zip-code and genuine New York City attitude and quality.” That’s cool, but their music was definitely better than being late to work consistently because of train delays or not having hot water for 3 weeks. These 3 guys are loud as hell and know how to rock; I headbanged so hard I spilled some beer at one point.
The Band Droidz loosened up the crowd but the second opener the So So Glos really got them ready to go. Also bearing the New York pedigree, the So So Glos brought their signature Brooklyn DIY vibe to the Webster Hall main ballroom with gritty vocals, loud guitars and a lot of jumping and moving and all that good shit. This band maintains a perfect equilibrium of punk rock vs. upbeat pop melodies, appealing to a wide audience and tackling issues of lost or questionable identity in the age of technology, an apropos introduction to the live Desaparecidos experience.
Besides their captivating stage presence, one of the most notable aspects of Desaparecidos’ set was Donald Trump’s ugly fucking face. This is not a joke- as Oberst and bandmates played through a solid 18-song setlist –which included a cover of The Clash’s “Spanish Bombs”- Webster Hall had the GOP debate playing (muted, thankfully) on the screens on either side of the stage. Standing there, double fisting beer, listening to Oberst scream about the “pigs on Wall Street” was made one hundred times more enjoyable by watching the candidates a.k.a. the aforementioned “pigs” make complete asses of themselves.
As the band wailed through their latest hits like “The Left Is Right,” “Te Amo Camila Vallejo,” and the ever-popular “MariKKKopa,” the audience was provided with one-of-a-kind visual aids to support Oberst’s arguably radical claims. The band paused every now and then to let us listen to a few seconds of the debate and make comments like “he’s running for President and he’s got a fuckin’ dead rat on his head?” before continuing their tirade against modern capitalism and materialism…and boy, do they put on one hell of a show.
The energy and passion radiating from the stage was admirable and reminded Desaparecidos fans that although they had been gone for a while, they’re back to continue their work and they are not going anywhere anytime soon. Closing with their 2002 hits “Manana” and “Greater Omaha,” the band finished the show even stronger than they had begun it. In the wake of all the injustice, police violence and general fuckery that goes on in this country, Desaparecidos are a beacon of inspiration for the people who are still ingenuous enough to hope that something may change one day.
TheWaster.com | NYC