Rocking and Rolling with Los Gatos Negros

It was like Shakin’ at the High School Hop, except the party goers had black leather and very long hair and no one was dancing.

(itemId=6877 Photo by Elaine Ramirez)

The venue was to blame, not Los Gatos Negros (The Black Cats). Its name Metalkolicos Bar smacked of teen Goths and Iron Maiden. Sure enough, the illuminated sign above the entrance hung huge and red, dripping in neon blood. The inside was small, grungy and could have used some gothic teens; at least they might have danced.

(itemId=6880 Photo by Elaine Ramirez)

Despite these setbacks Los Gatos Negros came on with great energy and launched into many a fun, foot-tapping tune. These included a rock and roll number Jerry Lee Lewis would have enjoyed titled "Corre y Nada" (Run and Nothing) and then on into an upbeat, country-like "Años Dorados" (Golden Years).

Los Gatos Negros explained how they got their name. Edo Agrela, Christian Costa, Jorge Rojas and Mariano Rue, who had met at school here in the city, were sitting at a BBQ, drinking Gato Negro wine when lo, a small black cat dropped down from the ceiling next to them. It seemed like a sign.

When asked if they were a bit drunk when the cat appeared, they laughed, “Of course!” The group likes to have fun both in life and performance; thus Scott Walker and Chuck Berry, heroes of good old rock 'n' roll, are big influences for them.

Lead singer Edo Agrela rocked out in skinny jeans, cowboy boots and a traditional flat-brimmed Chilean chupalla hat.

Punchy opening riffs gave way to catchy, fast-paced songs and despite the lack of dancing the music deserved, the poky little bar came to life. Some songs such as "Mi Alma" (My Soul) were mellower and soulfully sung by Agrela. "Erase una vez en America" (Once upon a time in America), an anthem with a sweeping opening riff and chorus, had nearly everyone singing along.

The band's American Dream, the members said, is in fact the South American Dream. If they make some money on the road to success, great--but they never want to “sell out,” shrugged Edo. “Money is important, but is not the reason to live.”

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