“Rompan todo”: cartography of Latin American rock

Into the “Break it all: the history of rock in Latin America” ​​(“Break it All”), The Netflix documentaries, which premiered last Wednesday, intend to map, in six chapters, the origin and development of rock in the region. The bet is ambitious for a subject, of course, endless for this project. “Break it all” cannot be taken as a definitive musical almanac, but it works and is fun.

The decline of the “history of rock in Latin America” ​​is great, with an obvious role in what happened in Mexico and Argentina, the two largest markets and which during the twentieth century varied from north to south and vice versa. which was heard in the rest of the continent.

With this delimited cartography, what comes next is a chronological and choral account of the artists, Mexico being the closest border to the explosion of American rock and roll. In the late 1950s, Enrique Guzman At the time, it was a uniform find in a waistcoat and pants. Alex Lora, an icon of the most cartoon version of rock, admits that at that time they had no idea that what these first performers were doing were “covers”, but he already dreamed of being like them.

Even so, Lora, the leader of the Mexican group El Tri, says at one point: “Rock and roll is a means of communication and it would be illogical for us, with millions of people in the world who speak Cervantes, not to have our own Rock And Roll “.

The phenomenon was repeated in Buenos Aires, as in Chile – although the local New Wave is not mentioned – they were only free translators of English hits. The story is told by its protagonists and progresses with fashion. Latin hippies, long hair and the electrification of folklore come. León Gieco reports that he composed with Bob Dylan, and in Chile, Los Jaivas shook the inertia with a fusion that eventually gave identity to this musical mixture, leaving aside the pastiche, something that promoted Victor Jara, setting aside foreign culture.

The social context is inevitably political and is used as a backbone to present the effervescence of the musical movement, which comes as an outlet in different countries.

After approaching the prehistory of rock in Spanish, “Rompan todo” arrives in 1963, the year in which the real revolution began. With The Beatles as the protagonists, there was a whole generation of Latin American musicians who dared to form their group and generate a sound that would become the soundtrack of the youth of the time. In a matter of time, Los Shakers (the creators of the play “Rompan todo” which gives the series the title) would have been born in Uruguay, Los Saicos and Los Shains would appear in Peru, and Los Beatniks and Los Gatos would form in Argentine.

What started as a movement designed for dance and fun, will become a reflection of a society crossed by many dictatorships and economic crises. Here, too, “Rompan todo” generates a very interesting approach, which reflects the importance of gender in the second half of the twentieth century. Each episode is a small story class that goes beyond music. In Mexico I talk about dictatorships, the Zapatista Movement, the 1985 earthquake and the demonization of rock after the Avándaro Festival, a kind of Woodstock, but in 1971. In the case of Argentina, the dictatorship of 1976, the Falklands War, the Menem government and the crisis of 2001.

The first chapters deal with the repression of governments (Pinochet is an obscure mantra for Chilean music), the unusual ban on rock in Mexico, and the effects of historical events such as the Falklands War in Argentina, which led to the erasure of vestiges. massification of new local idols: Charly Garcia (from the Serú Girán troupe), Fito Paez and Soda Stereo.

But beyond all these crises, Latin American rock survived and reached its peak in the mid-eighties thanks to Soda Stereo. “Break everything” shows how the group led by Gustavo Cerati became the first rock export product in the region and influenced groups in Mexico, Chile and Uruguay.

MTV Latino, in the 90’s, which debuted with the video for “Sudamerican Rockers”, by Los Prisioneros, was the 24/7 showcase that helped make the massive alternative and here there is a common denominator, in a series of names that have exploded in that period: the Argentine Gustavo Santaolalla, producer of “Rompan todo” and who was the promoter of several bands on the continent; between them, Café Tacvba, Molotov, Julieta Venegas and Los Prisioneros, in the age of “Hearts.”

The truth is that the channel put groups like Café Tacvba, Aterciopelados, Molotov and The fabulous Cadillac to rotate across the continent and helped build connections between countries.

The last episode addresses the role of women in sex and presents testimonies from Julieta Venegas, Juana Molina, Mon Laferte and Andrea Echeverri. “The future of rock is a woman,” says Uruguayan producer Juan Campodónico, who sees a promising change in a genre that has been characterized by its constant mutation.

This genealogical tree of Latin rock that the series presents goes through the spring and summer of a cycle that today is autumn.

Towards the end, everything moves too fast, maybe at the same speed as the decline of the movement. There is an attempt to determine what is rock and what is not, and whether this cultural phenomenon is already dead. The observations among its protagonists are varied in a context in which political crises do not stop on the continent.

Group of Newspapers America – GDA: El País / Uruguay and El Mercurio / Chile