Popular Los Angeles chicano band, Viernes 13, performed during a concert at
Fullerton College on Thursday evening. The concert was organized by Fullerton College’s ethnic studies department and was part of the Chicano studies class.
Viernes 13 is one of a kind and their genre of music quite unique. It’s ska. A genre that is a precursor to reggae in the 1960’s, but also captures elements of jazz, calypso, blues and punk.
“It’s everything together. It’s not really mainstream, it’s sort of underground. It’s like reggae music, rock music and tropical music. And it’s in Spanglish; English and Spanish mixed together,” said Fullerton College student, Dyanna Almendarez. “And it has a really cool dance with it too. It’s called skanking.”
A large group of students at the concert came as part of a chicano studies class offered at Fullerton College under the ethnic studies department. Chicano studies, taught by Mr. Padilla.
“Our professor, Mr. Padilla, speaks very highly of the band [Viernes 13], so I am pretty excited to see them play,” said Fullerton College student, Maritza Geromimo.
But what is chicano studies?
According to Ronald Valencia, another one of Padilla’s students, “the class is all about the mix of the Mexican and American culture and it’s pretty cool. It’s a course that is not offered in too many places.”
Although Valencia hadn’t heard Viernes 13 play before, the excitement was evident. After having learned a great deal over the semester, he was certain this wouldn’t be a disappointment.
Over the course of the semester chicano studies students have gone on a number of field trips designed to give them the opportunity to learn about the chicano culture and how it has evolved into what it is today. This concert was another way to showcase this culture. It was a chance for students to connect with music that speaks directly to who they are and what their culture represents.
“Chicano used to be Mexican-american, but now it’s more of a culture, it’s something you feel, being stuck between two worlds—it’s being American, but also Latino,” said Geromimo.
She explained the importance of a more encompassing culture that transcends physical and cultural borders to give her a sense of belonging.
There were other students who were not a part of Padilla’s class and not particularly familiar with Viernes 13, but they also came out.
First year Fullerton College business management student, Leo Sicairos, said,
“I haven’t heard of the band before, but I saw the fliers on campus and I like music, so I wanted to come and hear what the groups sounds like.”
Across the board, there was excitement about the band being on campus. Yes, they were lively, upbeat and had the crowd on their feet within the first ten minutes of performing, but it went deeper than the music.
“The beauty of it [chicano ska] is that we can embrace both of our sides of our culture,” said Geromimo. There is the indigenous side, but we can also embrace that we were once colonized and we’re also Spaniards and that’s where the chicano ska comes into play.”
Now that you have taken Introduction to Chicano Studies, you are officially ready your first Viernes 13 concert. If you really want to fit in though, head over to YouTube and learn how to “skank”.
If you missed the performance on campus, don’t worry, Viernes 13 has a concert at The Observatory OC on May 8