The L.A. DIY punk scene and its south-of-the-border cousin have long been tight, but with Burnouts en Baja: Vol.1, a two-day punk festival in Tijuana this weekend, the trans-national community-building is about to hit the next level. San Francisco independent punk and hardcore label Discos MMM organized the festival, which features headliners Los Monjo and Proxy as well as bands from up and down the West Coast from Canada to Mexico, but the pivotal factor in making this show happen is the rigid and Kafkaesque nature of U.S. immigration policy.
"The thing is that Los Monjo can't come into the United States," says Tony Abarca, frontman of South L.A.'s Generacion Suicida, one of a handful of L.A. bands playing the fest. "The idea is to set up a show as close to the border as possible, so people from up here can go see them."
Guadalajara's Los Monjo (the band consists of three brothers and a cousin; Monjo is the family name) have been around since 2003, blasting stripped down, '80s-style punk with frequent nods to Eskorbuto and other Spanish punk bands. Although they're in huge demand, Los Monjo have been unable to enter the United States due to issues relating to their documentation. Without bank accounts, credit histories and other markers of Norteamericano privilege, it's virtually impossible for Los Monjo to successfully apply for visas that would allow them to enter the United States.
"I think people are upset that Los Monjo can't get in," says Abarca, "and the irony is that a lot of people from up here who really want to see the band can't go to Tijuana because they themselves are undocumented and won't be able to return."
"It really sucks," says Martha, bassist of all-female L.A. hardcore punk band Destruye y Huye, who take the stage at Burnouts on Saturday. Destruye y Huye consists of Martha, singer Angee, drummer Kat, and guitarist Scarlet (last names have been withheld by the band's request). "It would be awesome to have them play here. Los Monjo has had such a great impact, and a lot of people are going to go down there to see them. It just sucks they can't play here because of political and immigration issues."
Destruye y Huye, who have been around since 2011, can name about a thousand bands who've influenced their sound, including Los Monjo. "It's the whole atmosphere and the unity," says guitarist Scarlet about her expectations for Burnouts en Baja. "Bands are going to be coming down all the way from Canada. We just look forward to hanging out with other punks from all over. It's a community, you know?"
Destruye y Huye have played in Tijuana once before, and they're looking forward to going back. "Venues are more open to a younger crowd," says singer Angee. "In Mexico you're allowed to go to a show at a bar when you're 18, which makes a big difference."
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They're all stoked to see Los Monjo, and have no doubt that Burnouts en Baja is going to be one hell of a show. "Last year, when we played down there, everyone loved us. They all enjoyed our shit," guitarist Scarlet laughs. "We got a lot of love for TJ."
Check out the bill for Burnouts en Baja: Vol. 1 before you take off Friday and remember to bring your passport.