Televidentes Can't Be Turned Off

They're young, they're energetic and they can play that '80s punk groove that certain santiagüinos are known to love.

If they weren't so pissed off all the time, Televidentes could be pop stars.


However, the band's music couldn't sound any farther from mainstream. If garage bands existed in Santiago, Televidentes would overpower the block. A self-described punk and shoegaze troupe, the three-man band entertains syncopated rhythms that stir up semblances of Washington DC-based Fugazi and New York's Sonic Youth, though not at all as pleasantly predictable.

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Danceable underground punk tunes (think: The Clash) like "Lascivo" are fitting for the cozy venues that host the band, such as the loft space of La Capacha in Barrio Brasil. Others, marked by the even-beated, surefooted simplicity of the White Stripes and the tribal drum beats and solemn guitar tones of Interpol, provide just enough time to come up for air before Televidentes dives into a blood-heating roller coaster of musical emotion. Feel-good, beach party rhythms of “Aun no acaba” are cut with the raw, unsugared voice of singer-guitarist Camilo Plaza as the lead and bass guitars break into independently flowing atonal riffs.

As he explores the same nonconformist mindset that pushed Brasilian Tropicalia musician Caetano Veloso up to the cultural-revolution frontlines in decades past, Plaza seeks to embody the frustrated, angry, change-seeking side of Santiago in his music. So that's what he sings about.

"Rage. Against the machine, against the business, against the University of Catolica," where Plaza is studying, with admitted resentment, for a history degree. "There are a lot of things in Santiago that have a direct influence on us," the 19-year old said about his city, where teargas bombs scatter protesters, discontented students push for reform in the education system and citizens feel unduly mistreated by the Pacos. "In Santiago, there are a lot of angry people."

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The trio spawned Televidentes in 2002 while in high school, but the group split due to musical differences (bassist Felipe Espinoza, 20, fell to the "disease" of metal music, Plaza says). After melting down Espinoza's heavy metal urges, Televidentes reunited in 2007 in an attempt to express the frustrated sentiments of underrepresented Chileans.

"Basically, we are normal people," Plaza said. "We have to extend music to normal people."

With an off-mainstream style tinted with Bob Dylan and Velvet Underground influences, the musicians will probably not grace the larger stages of Santiago like La Batuta until much later in their musical careers. (But they're college undergrads; they have time.) Like many garage bands, however, Televidentes is sure to gain a considerable fanship among its anti-establishment, anti-corruption Chilean peers. And with stylistic power, creativity and--most of all--angst, the musical potential that Televidentes is capable of is not a force to be f***ed with.

So if you come across these kids playing happy-go-lucky punk riffs, brace yourself for the violent, surprise punch--and don't say we didn't warn you.

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