Los Angeles is a diverse hub of ethnicities and identities, and even without the census’ statistical revelation, residents have long acknowledged the city as being a predominantly Latinx metropolis. However, much of what is written about punk rock in LA neglects the Latinx community and the bands that single-handedly uphold the music scene. Rolling Stone, for example, compiled a “10 Great Modern Punk Bands” article that completely missed the mark and failed to include at least one LA-based band, while LA Weekly fared even worse by not only confusing indie, experimental, and alternative bands with punk, but completely ignoring most of the Latinx acts that are figureheads in the contemporary scene.
As such, a list of the scene’s current and best Latinx punk bands is imperative and necessary. LA was key to the evolution of punk rock and U.S. hardcore, birthing acts that are considered critical to the canon for any beginner. The new generation of punk in LA draws influence from these pioneers, who rebelled against Ronald Reagan’s administration, capitalism, banal suburban life, and conservative ideals — but in this new political climate, the modern generation takes things several steps forward by battling the deeply ingrained effects of colonialism, misogyny, white patriarchal power, and heteronormativity, especially as they affect the intersectional identities of people of color.
The following bands all challenge these aspects of present-day life not only for Latinxs, but other marginalized communities too. Above all, these bands illuminate an underrepresented faction of the LA punk scene and adequately capture the socioeconomic realities of growing up as impoverished Latinxs in LA.
1. Generación Suicida
The same area that gave rise to the infamous LA riots of 1992 also begat Generación Suicida — a Spanish-language punk band that has gone on to survive years of musical trends by staying true to their sound. The South Central band was founded in 2010 by drummer Kiwi Martinez and guitarist-vocalist Tony Abarca, who describe their project as “música del barrio, para el barrio.”
The band skillfully merges harmonious melodies with fast-paced drumbeats that are simple but intricate — Kiwi’s drumming style is known for being unorthodox and sophisticated. GS pens lyrics that address the complexities of LA life, particularly one dictated by systemic oppression. One example is their 2013 song “Metralleta,” on which Tony simulates the sound of a machine gun with the incessant roll of his tongue. The song poetically expresses the pain that people of color endure at the hands of police: “Policias corruptas que patrullan mi barrio/Y que matan a mi gente/Y los matan con pasión…Y oigo los gritos en la distancia/Gritos de mi gente/De mi gente en dolor/Eran humanos…”
The self-identified “queer people of color punk” band initially formed in 2015, but quickly disbanded due to creative differences. After the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting, the band members were so deeply affected by the tragedy that they felt compelled to join forces and resist against homophobia by making music. Each member of Causa identifies with the LGBTQ community, and the band told Remezcla that their goal is to ultimately challenge cis-white-heteronormative ideals in the scene: “Our songs derive from queer anger, lack of representation, and desire for social change in both Latinx culture and in punk.”
As such, the noisy band writes about class struggles, displacement, and social injustices — especially those affecting the LGBTQ community. Causa plays fast-paced hardcore with lyrics in both English and Spanish, making their narratives more accessible as they strive for representation, visibility, and inclusivity in the punk scene at large.
3. Destruye y Huye
Seeing women take up space in the male-dominated punk scene is always a powerful spectacle, but even more profound than that is seeing women of color from the hood dominating a scene that is known for being chiefly white, male, and suburban. Destruye y Huye is an all-femme Spanish-language punk band made up of five Mexican-American best friends who are rooted throughout the county’s diverse cities. The group came together in 2010 and quickly made their mark in the scene with their raw sound, fierce vocals, and commanding attitude.
They recently returned from hiatus with a vengeance — playing numerous shows throughout California and preparing a new tape release through a DIY label called En Tu Kara Records. DYH is also scheduled to play several large punk events later this year, including Manic Relapse in Oakland, Internacional Punkytud in Mexico, and LA’s sCUM 2-Year Anniversary Party featuring Limp Wrist.
Futura is a femme-fronted band that plays a blend of street punk and primitive hardcore with lyrics in both Spanish and English. The band’s name is a play on the word “futuro;” it subverts the masculine signification and transforms it into one that represents a femme future.
The band is less than a year old, but they have already accomplished a lot in the brief time they have been playing. Since starting out in 2017, Futura has performed in major events like Oakland’s Manic Relapse and an FYF Fest event with Sheer Mag. The band has completed a variety of minor tours on the West Coast, and they have an upcoming Midwest/East Coast tour this spring in support of their new release “Spit on the Flag,” via En Tu Kara Records.
Strangers is as enigmatic as their name suggests, with the band tending to lay low in order to eliminate any hype surrounding their music. But a band this good warrants your attention, and can’t ward off the recognition they deserve. This femme-fronted band is reminiscent of music from LA’s renowned Dangerhouse Records, which brought bands like The Avengers, The Bags, and X to the forefront.
The vocalist conveys the same harmonious and melodic reverberations that past great punk women like Siouxsie Sioux and Alice Bag manifested, making their music all the more distinct and enjoyable. While the band pays tribute to the vintage sound that catapulted LA punk to the masses, Strangers avoids pure nostalgia by refreshing their work with extra reverb and swift bass lines. They recently released a new cassette tape titled “The Mad.”
On May Day in 2015, Strangers and a few other Latinx punk bands set up a generator and brought their equipment to City Hall, where they played sets to demonstrate support for the Latinx protestorswho were notoriously attacked by police forces during the MacArthur Park May Day rallies in 2007.