In just four years, Charlotte has gone from being a nonstop for tours by cool Latino rock bands to being a must stop. It started in 2002, when the Mexican band Jaguares packed Tremont Music Hall, surprising the band itself, its management and its publicist, who told me he had no idea the Carolinas had become so Latinized.
Of course, that's old news today. Jaguares has since returned to Tremont, and other monsters of rock en español -- Mexico's El Tri and Molotov, Venezuela's Los Amigos Invisibles, and Colombian superstar Juanes -- also have found their way to the QC. Add to that list Los Pericos, longtime Argentinean purveyors of reggaefied rock, who couldn't be more excited about swinging through the South.
"We've played Miami and New York and the West Coast, but this is our first time coming to Charlotte and Atlanta," said guitarist Willie Valentinis by phone from his home in Buenos Aires.
Formed in 1986, Los Pericos has become legendary in Argentina, drawing crowds of more than 150,000 at some shows, much like the Police or UB40 did in the English-speaking world of the '80s and '90s. It was the Police that inspired Los Pericos in the first place, and in the years since, the band has remade an obscure Police song, "Darkness," along with original Police drummer Stewart Copeland.
"It was a big honor for us," said Valentinis. "We picked a strange song and did it in a very creative way, with strings and loops. We're proud of it."
He's also proud of the representation his fellow Latinos have today across the US, and of their demand for live music in their own language. "They live in the US, but they're also always looking at what's happening in their own countries," said Valentinis. "So when we go to play [in the US], it's like we're taking them back to their countries again."
Not that Los Pericos wants to attract just a Latino crowd. The nature of reggae, Valentinis said, is to include all cultures, despite linguistic barriers of any kind. "We're not just a group for Latin people," he said. "We think Americans will like our music, too."
Los Pericos performs Friday with local opening acts La Maréa and Bakalo Stars at Skandalos, 5317 E. Independence Blvd. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Show starts at 9pm. Call 704-535-4383 or 891-1163 for info.