Negu Gorriak is a rock band from Spain, but it's not a Spanish rock band. The group, which made its long-awaited Los Angeles debut on Wednesday at the Hollywood Grand, is made up of five Basques, members of one of Spain's three original ethnic groups. The band has plenty of the musical edge lacking in most Spanish rock bands. The members rap in Basque (Europe's most ancient tongue) and, needless to say, don't want anything to do with "Yanqui" or Spanish "imperialism" (they want complete independence for the Basque region).
At the Hollywood Grand, Negu Gorriak (the name means "crude winter") seemed capable of going toe-to-toe with any band on the planet. The stirring, 90-minute set showed why it has been one of the most influential Latin rock bands in the last decade. The blend of rap, rock, punk and reggae and bold attacks on industrialism, Oliver North and John Wayne leave room for a few Caribbean and world music touches.