Rock in Cuba: Good Things Don’t Last

Irina Pino

A full audience for Los Kents at the Maison.

HAVANA TIMES — Every weekend, rock addicts go to Submarino Amarillo or the Casa de la Amistad, depending on their individual tastes, and also their means, although recently, many of them used to go to dance with the Los Kent band at the Maison, because entrance used to be free, you just had to pay for drinks.

At the Maison, glamorous fashion runways used to take place in the ‘80s and ‘90s in the same patio, attended by foreigners, celebrities and happy people, where parties with lots of food and glitz used to be held. Today, however, it is a decadent, paint stripped place with a dirty swimming pool full of leaves and bathrooms that don’t work as they should.

But, for some time now up until recently, the place gained new life thanks to Saturday concerts with Los Kent, people were going there to have a good time, to rock out with this band which was born in the ‘60s, and is now made up of young musicians. I believe that the drummer is the only one left who was a member of the original band.

People would listen to songs by the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, AC DC, Aerosmith, and other rock bands, which Los Kent did covers of, everybody enjoyed those concerts to the max, without thinking that “good things don’t last”, like the popular saying goes. And, last night, the group announced that it would be their final performance there.

This bad news annoyed many of their fans, and comments increased about how venues for rock concerts were being taken away day after day, while salsa and reggaeton are more lucky as they have a greater number of venues.

What is it with rock that it continues to be the most slated out of all music genres? Why has Maxim Rock been shut down for two years now?

Carnero, the Kents band leader, told everyone that they would continue on, and he took note of everyone present’s mobile phone numbers so that he could keep them informed, if they managed to find another venue to play at. Although later, at the bar, he told someone that his struggle with censors has been a decades-long struggle.

Rock in Cuba has always been the black sheep. After the Rolling Stones were in Havana, and they packed out the Ciudad Deportiva with over 1 million attendees, people thought that a lot of rock bands would come to the island, but the truth is that nobody else has come; there is a deadly silence around all of this.

Mick Jagger’s words at the concert about censorship in previous times didn’t go down well with everyone. The Habana Moon documentary wasn’t broadcast on Cuban TV either, so people could see it. Everything has remained an unfulfilled promise.

Dancing to Los Kents.

However, the documentary has been circulating around, from USB to USB. Nobody can stop that.

I also remember that the publicity the Satanic Majesties received wasn’t really in keeping with their importance, as a legendary band which has survived eras and different musical trends. Just some grey news, and a little public exposure.

Nevertheless, crowds came together to celebrate the event of the century. Fans of the genre, detractors, and curious onlookers stood together at the performance on March 25, 2016.

Talking about events, the International Jazz Day is taking place right now (Sunday April 30th), which is enjoying vast media attention and coverage on digital media and TV. The concert that took place at Havana’s Alicia Alonso Grand Theater was shown in over 25 countries in a special broadcast.

Important musicians on the world circuit took part, such as Herbie Hancock and Chucho Valdes; and actor Will Smith was one of the presenters at the event.

Jazz is important, but why doesn’t rock have this chance?

In Cuba, there are no rock festivals, except for Brutal Fest, and very few scattered events in the provinces.

Why does this happen? What’s the reason for this discrimination?

Hadn’t we gotten over the stone age? Or is it not worth giving people wings again?

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Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

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