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Peruvian Rock Music with a Lima Twist

  • Julio Almeida
  • 18 December 2010

Lima, the capital city of Peru, is bubbling with culture and interesting things to which travellers can devote their time; we have architecture spanning hundreds of years, nearby beaches and (in my opinion) the best cuisine in Peru! Beyond indulging in the typical sights and sounds, however, some travellers search for a peek under the skin of the city to see what we Peruvians are really like. For a glimpse of the real Lima, I recommend delving into the rock ‘n’ roll scene that has been gaining momentum both at the local and international levels.

The band Asmereir plays music that falls somewhere between hardcore, ska punk and reggae.
This group, called Asmereir, got its start over a decade ago and plays a genre of music that falls somewhere between hardcore, ska punk and reggae. Photo courtesy of Gregory Arevalo

Where to find the Groove

These days, there are concerts featuring a variety of rock styles every weekend and even a few pubs that offer shows during the week – it is just a matter of knowing where to go. One of the best places to look is the Barranco district, which has several live music venues close to the main square, such as La Noche de Barranco, a pub that also serves up a lengthy list of tasty drinks and dishes. Another great place is the El Keko, which tends to feature underground rock, hardcore, heavy metal and doom metal bands. Listeners preferring classic rock will feel right at home at La Estación de Barranco, where bands with a 60s and 70s vibe are right at home.

The historical centre of the city is home to the Culture Centre ‘El Averno’, which presents many ‘anti-establishment’ rock groups that display the more radical sounds of Lima. Hearing the rebellion in the voices of these bands can be an interesting experience. Underground rock concerts are also organised throughout the city, although the locations of these shows change regularly.

Many of the hottest Peruvian groups frequent La Noche de Barranco, well known among Limeños as one of the best clubs for live music.
Many of the hottest Peruvian groups frequent La Noche de Barranco, well known among Limeños as one of the best clubs for live music. The Barranco district of Lima is famous for the diversity of its nightlife, though by day it is much quieter, with lovely parks and great views from the cliffs overlooking the sea. Photo courtesy of Julio Almeida

Unique Voices with Meaning

The rock scene in Lima is interesting because – especially in the last two decades – many new Peruvian rock groups have sprouted up, each with a unique musical style. With all the influences that have come through this capital city over the centuries, our music is a conglomeration of Andean beats, Creole music, and classical, jazz and folk influences all fused with various styles of rock.

The lyrics also give true insight into that changes that Peru has undergone over the last 30 years. Many Peruvian rockers of today were part of the generation that grew up during the violence that was common during the 80s and 90s – years when bad politics led to massive social protests. The rock music that we hear in Lima’s nightclubs and bars is very much an expression of dissatisfaction with the status quo of Peruvian society and a readiness for change to come.

Reino Ermitaño is a regular sight on La Noche's band list and has been playing strong since 2001.
Reino Ermitaño is a regular sight on La Noche’s band list and has been playing strong since 2001. They have released three albums, their most recent one called ‘Rituales Interiores’. Photo courtesy of Richard Nosserco.

All these new sounds coming out of the new Peruvian rock ‘n’ roll scene suggest that music is truly at the forefront of the changes occurring with the society – and far more progressive than other forms of art. It is great to join in the energy and exhilaration experienced by the audiences during concerts because Limeños truly identify with these bands. Travellers can gain an authentic glimpse into the lives and feelings of locals during one of these shows, in addition to having fun and listening to good live music!

Many of the groups that play in Lima now have access to recording facilities and the ability to make CDs; therefore, it is possible to take a selection of a band’s music home with you after the concert. This is a great way to help the local band and share their Peruvian art. Of course, some bands hit the road as well. Two local groups from Lima that have toured in Europe are Reino Ermitaño (Hermit Kingdom) and La Ira de Dios (The Rage of God). Both are certainly worth checking out during any swing through Lima.

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Julio Almeida

Julio Almeida is the whl.travel local connection in Lima. He is also a drummer in the heavy metal rock band Reino Ermitaño and passionate about music in Peru, rock or otherwise.
Julio Almeida
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cities, fine arts, human interests, local knowledge, music, opinion, personal experience, Peru, South America, whl.travel,

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