Disfonia: Political Rock

Nothing brightens my weekend like a good dive bar. Ok, unless that dive bar features explosive, mind-rattling sound, that makes the experience sublime. Enter the album party for Disfonia, a band that proves the old adage: more hair equals more rock.

 Photo by Haylee Magendans
Photo by Haylee Magendans

In a small, grimy, surprisingly well lit, bar somewhere between central Santiago and Plaza Nuñoa, I found myself in Clandestino. Not to be confused with the expensive Bellavista venue that bears the same name, this bar required a smile at the door to enter, featured a cast of patrons that can only be described as quirky, and a liter of Escudo costing CP$1500. Complementing the colorful patrons and cheap beer, dozens of empty beer crates lined the hall and bizarre, Japanese-esque landscapes decorated the walls.

 Photo by Haylee Magendans
Photo by Haylee Magendans

Disfonia churns out loud music like a well oiled, incredibly powerful, steam engine: gaining strength when necessary, nearly blasting the speakers off the stage. During their teenage years, they listened almost exclusively to early 90‘s, heavy metal. They list their influences as Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, Guns and Roses and Ozzy Osbourne, to name a few. With only a basic line up of vocals (“Keving” Leva), guitar (Leonardo Cifuentes), base (Rafael Allendes) and drums (Sergio Carlini), they left my ears ringing the entire next day.

Yet, the classic, heavy metal of Disfonia comes with a twist. Their lead singer screams while looking surprisingly dapper with a striped tie and collared shirt combo. He augments the basic head-bang, floor-roll with yoga inspired contortions, sweet dance steps and a hand-stand or two. Keving says he sees his performance as “cathartic,” a direct link from his own creativity to the audience.

 Photo by Haylee Magendans
Photo by Haylee Magendans

Indeed, Disfonia’s performance results in catharsis for the entire band. As Keving wheels and spins to the delight of the crowd, the three instrumentalists match his rage and energy, with a brutal onslaught supporting the voice. The music explodes and builds to epic rock climaxes. But the lyrics prove their substance. Not mindless, head banging freaks screaming for attention, Disfonia see themselves as musical counter revolutionaries, sifting through their country’s sordid history.

Disfonia has a message.

The band’s name translated to English means Dysphonia, a medical term for disorders of the voice, or an impairment in the ability to produce voice sounds using the vocal organs. Growing up during the dictatorship in Chile, the boys feel afflicted with this disease. We have a “voz limitada (limited voice),” all because of “this f**king country.” They said that bit in English.

 Photo by Haylee Magendans
Photo by Haylee Magendans

But now, they make themselves heard.

Their song titled Fiesta de Mierda (Sh**ty Party) from their new album Daño Estructural directly attacks the Chilean government system.

The show begins at the polls
You must go to vote for them
(when sung in spanish, this line could also be mistaken for “you must throw them away”)
The show begins at the polls
You must listen to senseless words.

Or, refer to their song Mienten (They Lie). While the musicians pound away tirelessly on their instruments, Keving unleashes his ferocious voice on these words:

They lie
Face them!
They lie
Face them!

When asked about the future of Disfonia, Keving confidently replies, “Mi meta personal es llegar a ser la banda más importante de Chile en los próximos 10 años. Y no tengo duda de que podemos hacerlo (My personal goal is to become the most important band in Chile in the next 10 years. And I have no doubt we can make it).”

 Photo by Haylee Magendans
Photo by Haylee Magendans

Bar Clandestino
310 Avenida Mata
On the corner of Portugal and Mata

Disfonia
http://www.disfonia.cl/

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