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Los Abandoned prepares to stage a 'Resurrection' at Echoplex

And what better time for the bilingual punk pop band's return to life than near the Day of the Dead?

October 26, 2011|By Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times
  • Los Abandoned's Pilar Diaz, from left, Moises Baqueiro, Tony Reyes and David Green.
Los Abandoned's Pilar Diaz, from left, Moises Baqueiro, Tony Reyes… (Katie Falkenberg, For The…)

Los Abandoned always had a flair for the theatrical.

So when the L.A. bilingual band decided to stage a one-night-only reunion show at the Echoplex this Friday, four years after breaking up in memorably dramatic style, it named the event the "Resurrection" concert and timed it to celebrate Day of the Dead.

The set-opening number? Band members are joking about covering Peaches & Herb's "Reunited."

"It's basically a big-ass thank-you to our fans, to our community," said bass player Moises Baqueiro, also known as Vira Lata, explaining what prompted Los Abandoned to come together for a projected 30-song show that will trace its entire creative arc and empty out its catalog.

The impulse behind Friday's reunion had two sources. In 2010, the band was approached about doing a benefit concert to aid Chile following that country's devastating February earthquake. The bandmates were eager to cooperate, but scheduling issues prevented it.

Then the bandmates recently found themselves together at a birthday party for lead guitarist David Green (Don Verde) and decided to try rekindling the old flame.

"It's like we're still family," said Pilar Diaz, aka Lady P., the group's Chilean American, ukulele-strumming lead singer, during an interview last week at the band publicist's downtown L.A. office. "There's still that tie of having gone through such an immense experience for seven or eight years, that family bond will probably always be there. If we love each other or hate each other, it'll still be there."

For admirers, the group's upcoming performance is as welcome as it is unexpected. Between the late 1990s and 2007, Los Abandoned honed dance-happy, alt-rock-pop with a post-punk gloss. Its principal songwriters, Diaz and Green, specialized in cheeky, up-tempo tunes in Spanish, English and combinations thereof, with punning titles such as "Van Nuys (es Very Nice)" and "Panic-oh!" Baqueiro and drummer Tony Reyes (Dulce) formed the tight yet explosive rhythm section.

Their two EPs and sole LP, and kinetic stage presence, earned the band a label (Vapor Records) and tour dates with the likes of Café Tacuba, Zoé, Julieta Venegas and the Breeders. Journalist Gustavo Arellano, now managing editor of the OC Weekly, wrote that Los Abandoned "reflected the postmodern Latino experience better than any band ever." At its best, the band forged a link among old-school bilingual groups like Los Lobos, contemporaries such as Ozomatli and a whole generation of new Spanglish artists.

"The number of U.S. grade-A Latin alternative artists has been fairly minimal," said Josh Norek, a musician who has collaborated with some members of Los Abandoned and co-hosts "The Latin Alternative" program on Cal State Northridge's radio station KCSN-FM (88.5). Los Abandoned, Norek continued, "reached a pretty wide audience and made it cool to do bilingual punk pop."

Although its members have continued to play and record extensively as solo artists and in new configurations, even together at times, Los Abandoned sank into the ooze of obscurity after playing its last concert at the La Brea Tar Pits. The band announced the breakup on its website, featuring the image of a heart cleaved in two.

At first, fans wondered if it all might be a hoax. But the pressures of performing and touring, the frustrations of being what Baqueiro calls "the ultimate opening band" rather than the headliner, and the sophomore jinx that hindered the band's attempt at a second album were all too real.

"We weren't giving ourselves enough room to relax or to grow," Diaz said. "I think what helps balance other bands to stay together is … side projects, when they have other things that they do that satisfy them in other ways. It's like with a marriage or even like with a partnership. If you don't have another outlet, there's no balance."

None of its members is predicting, let alone promising, where Friday's gig may lead. But for now, Los Abandoned is enjoying rehearsing some strangely familiar tunes and reconnecting with an audience it left bereft.

"I never thought this would happen, to be honest," Baqueiro said. "It's like baby steps. At least right now we're friends again, we're in a room conversing and having musical dialogue."

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