Puerto Rico: Indie Rockers Inspired by Internet Culture

Since entering Puerto Rico's buoyant independent music scene in late 2008, Los Niños Estelares (“The Star Kids”) have been known for their unique brand of socially-conscious, self-referential folk-pop sing-a-longs both online and off. The group's incisive (yet hilarious) lyrics and well-cultivated image have found success through Youtube, where the group's videos have received over 200,000 views to date. Calling to mind other famous comedic rock-duos such as Tenacious D and Flight of the Concords, Fernando Castro Álvarez and Darío Constaín Reyes imbue Los Niños Estelares's songs with a social conscience that is all their own.

Their newest video, which you can see above, is for the song “Pari Bus” (slang for Party Bus) off the upcoming album titled “Tragedias y esperanzas en tiempos de Internet”, which translates to “Tragedies and Hope in Times of Internet.” That record is due by the end of the year and will be available online as a free download via the band's website.

“Pari Bus” has been viewed over 10,000 times since it was uploaded to Youtube on October 25, making it an instant success for the band. The clip, directed by René Pedrosa and “Niño Estelar” Fernando Castro Álvarez comically casts the band as outcasts inside their own Party Bus. Extras for the video were solicited through the band's Facebook support group – which goes to show Los Niños Estelares's dedication to fully exploiting the Internet for their music. Also making an appearance throughout the video are some of Puerto Rico's most celebrated (yet still obscure) Internet characters, such as the “Vampiro Industrial” [es] (Industrial Vampire), Chovi “the crying boy from Patillas,” and Fico Fronte, an extreme version of the local drug-dealer/gang-member with illusions of grandeur created by the comedic duo of ESOEZ TV [NSFW].

Photo by Eliud Echevarría courtesy of Los Niños Estelares

When asked to share his thoughts about Puerto Rico's online community and the local “memes” created through social services and the blogosphere, Fernando had this to say:

Creo que la comunidad creativa online puertorriqueña está naciendo poco a poco. Ya la televisión puertorriqueña está muerta. La gente está buscando material audiovisual puertorriqueño de calidad y está acudiendo al Internet para encontrarlo.

I think that Puerto Rico's online creative community is slowly being born. Puerto Rican television is dead. People are looking for quality Puerto Rican audiovisual content and they are going online in order to find it.

As slick and funny as the video came out, Fernando is adamant about its message and its relevance in Puerto Rico's current cultural climate.

Creo que la canción es muy buena y la razón por la cual es muy buena es porque tiene algo MUY importante que decir que casi nadie expresa en Puerto Rico. El mensaje principal de la canción es el siguiente: Dile NO a esta cultura perniciosa de alcoholismo y de pari sin sentido, al abuso de sustancias psicotrópicas y en sí, a la economía subterránea que esclaviza y destruye lentamente a nuestro archipiélago del encanto.

I think the song is very good and the reason is because it has something VERY important to say that almost no one in Puerto Rico expresses. The main message of the song is the following: Say NO to that pernicious culture of alcoholism and senseless partying, of psychotropic substance abuse and in essence, to the underground economy that slowly enslaves and destroys our archipelago of enchantment, Puerto Rico.

So who is really behind the wheel of this Party Bus?

For those willing to take the plunge: I had the pleasure of interviewing Fernando Castro Álvarez of Los Niños Estelares and co-director René Pedrosa about the making of the “Pari Bus” video for PuertoRicoIndie.com [es].

For the uninitiated: There's a great side-by-side comparison of the Internet character cameos found in the “Pari Bus” video with their original sources of inspiration over at ESOEZ [es].

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