I play guitar and sing in an indie rock band called Paracutá. As our name implies, we carry some unique Latin influence – half of our band is from South America while the other half is from New York.
Our music reflects the diversity of the band. We perform songs in Spanish as well as English, and this duality has allowed us to maintain a presence in both music communities in and around New York.
Yesterday, we were one of several bands invited to play an event called “EL GRITO DEL MUNDO,” or “The Cry of the World.” organised by the Coalition of Latino Musicians of New York, EL GRITO was created to allow Spanish indie bands such as ours to show support for the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators by performing in Zuccotti Park. It was the first of several events planned by the Coalition in conjunction with Occupy Wall Street, and we were intrigued by the opportunity.
We arrived to play our set with three acoustic guitars and a cajón, a box shaped percussion instrument from Peru. It was a departure from our regular lineup as a conventional four-piece electric band, but no amplification of any kind is allowed in the park because it would require noise permits. The demonstrators have managed without PAs and bullhorns by engaging in a clever group call and response – an announcer makes a single statement, and the group around him repeats it, functioning as a type of “human loudspeaker.” For musical performances such as ours, call and response is not possible, but what was lacking in amplifiers and mixing boards was made up for by crowd enthusiasm.
Despite the fact that El Grito Del Mundo was put together by a Latino organisation, I couldn’t help but notice the diversity of the crowd. Yes, it was a predominantly Spanish audience, but every major ethnic group in New York seemed to be represented in the park. Walking around after our set, I spoke with students and recent graduates, union members, working professionals, business people, and many average New Yorkers who support the movement. All well educated, informed, and unhappy with the current state of America.
Public figures have criticised Occupy Wall Street for lacking a defined message. I don’t know if that’s a fair criticism. If everything were going well in the country, would all these people have flooded the Financial District waving flags and signs? The demonstrators are unhappy with the power Wall Street has over their government, the poor state of the economy and the lack of jobs. They want to feel better about things in general. And through music, we were able to help them, if for just a moment.
Learn more about Paracutá on Facebook.