Machete Madness with Brujeria: Formed in Los Angeles in 1989, it wasn’t until ’97 that Brujeria played live — a one-off gig at the Whisky. And then it was the fall of 2003 that they embarked on their first ever tour. They really did keep everyone waiting.
Not that you’d know it, based on the live beast that is Brujeria 2023. The lineup has shifted over the years — extreme metal “names” from bands including Napalm Death, Carcass and Cradle of Filth have come and gone — but the brutality remains intact.
The legend of Brujeria has been told plenty of times, but the basics are that the band was formed by musicians including Dino Cazares of Fear Factory, Bill Gould of Faith No More and Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, with the aim of increasing Latino representation in metal. Not all of the band members were or are Latino, but their hearts were in the right place. The myth behind the facts was that Brujeria were drug dealing satanists, armed with machetes, ready to dismember any rival dealer who crosses their path.
The sleeve for awesome debut album Matando Güeros featured an actual severed head, and a model of that head now pops up on stage with them. It’s all a bit bonkers, but it makes for an insanely energetic live spectacle.
At Alex’s Bar in Long Beach on Saturday night, the crowd took every opportunity to do seven shades of apeshit with frontman Juan Brujo and his nutty bunch. Opening with “Leyes Narcos” from that debut, the 25-song setlist includes seven more songs from Matando Güeros and six from the sophomore Raza Odiada.
“Seis Seis Seis” reminds us of their satanic roots, while “Matando Güeros” makes this writer happy that the whole thing is a fiction. Mind you, their reworking of the “Macarena” as “Marijuana” should have been reminder enough even if they were waving machetes around.
Earlier, the Dwarves mainman Blag Dahlia told us time and time again that they are the best rock & roll band on the planet. Even if that’s pushing it a bit, his confidence isn’t without merit.
The band is as tight as hell, with Nick Oliveri (aka Rex Everything) a fascinating foil. Songs such as “Everybody’s Girl” encourage manic circle pits, as punk and metal collides.
Earlier still, local thrashers Art of Shock had heads banging and kicked off the evening nicely. Quite the triple bill, then.
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