In a city so full of tango, electronica, and reggaeton, it’s not so easy for a foreigner to get into the punk/grunge scene in Buenos Aires. But it does exist.
The Ramones, one of the pioneer punk rock groups, have a big cult following in Argentina – look out for graffiti paying homage to the group. And the alternative scene then gained a renewed following in the country during the 1990s, with the rise of grunge and nu metal/fusion bands coming from the U.S. like Limp Bizkit, Deftones, or Rage Against The Machine.
Mainstream places like Niceto Club and Roxy Bar do dedicate some nights of the week to alternative music, with fairly regular punk/grunge parties. However, not content with this, The Argentina Independent sought out some more ‘hardcore’ places, which though perhaps not all strictly punk-oriented, are a good option for those that prefer a heavier sound…
Salon Puerreydon is THE hardcore punk place to be in Buenos Aires – perhaps the only true punk venue in the city.
Everything goes on the ground floor, but climb the stairs and you will find most of the Buenos Aires punk crowd, complete with ripped jeans and mohawk cuts, and all bathed in moody, reddish lighting.
When you enter the bar, on your left, you find the bar, and on your right you can sit on comfortable couches or next to the windows while listening to live bands.
Further back is the live stage, with plenty of people ‘pogo dancing’ (moshing) in front of it – and another bar. The cheapest beer is around $20, and they have plenty of local rum, whiskeys and cocktails.
If you talk with ‘Kolo’, one of the managers, he will tell you about all the things that have occurred in this bar, which was ‘re-born’ along with the punk scene after the dictatorship. Go in a speak to him or other staff, they are really open-minded and always ready for a chat.
El Emergente Bar
El Emergente is a 7-year-old bar which invites lots of different bands and artists to its live shows. But most of the bands you can see there play either national rock or grunge/punk music. At the entrance, somebody tells me that I will find all types of “emerging music” – in other words, it’s a good place to catch ‘up and coming’ bands. The music is loud, and the guitars are most definitely plugged in and turned up.
The place is vast for such a door: there are two concert stages, a graffiti-painted smoking room, and a games room (ping pong, table football etc). The A stage is the main room, full of tables to sit and watch the bands, while in the B stage room is more suited to an intimate party, and sometimes includes acoustic shows and art exhibitions.
The place is open, according to ‘Leo’ the bartender: “from Monday to Monday, from 9pm to 5am” .
Every night, about three to seven bands will play and you can enjoy one litre beers for as little as $20. While you may not see as many mohawk here, there are plenty of punk/grunge followers that come to check out the new bands on the scene.
Gallo 333, Abasto. More info on the website.
The bar is clearly visible from the street, with graffiti that instantly points to a heavy metal and hardcore music culture. I meet Santino, the bar tender, a tall, heavily pierced and tattooed ‘metal head’ (and also an arts teacher and a tattooist), who tells me the place is an “institution” and a “must go” for metal lovers in Buenos Aires.
The decorations are more or less as you would expect from a metal bar, but better. There is a gloomy but stylish atmosphere: a plastic model pierced and graffitied stands in a corner next to a pool table, while posters of classic metal bands – think AC/DC, Sepultura and pals – are everywhere.
Santino tells me that they play all types of alternative, heavy music: “Metal, punk, grunge, heavy rock… but we certainly don’t play cumbia, loco!” The ground floor includes the well-priced bar, and at the very back, a concert stage, with drums – a permanent and vital resident as this venue.
At the first floor another bar and another pool table, with photos and autographs of the bands who have played there. Antonio “Tano” Romano, the guitarist of the famous Argentine heavy metal band Malón gave the bar a huge pennant, which is in the corner of the first floor.
“We basically host all the international bands who come to town,” boasts Santino. We had Sepultura, Helloween, Motorhead… For Motorhead, we had to block the street because the place was so full – people couldn’t enter the bar and listened to the music from the street. That was a hell of a mess!”
Apart from the traditional $35 beer, you can enjoy free pizza from 10pm to 1am. The place is full of good, hardcore vibes – just don’t go there in your favourite shirt.
Piedras 1040, San Telmo. Check out the Facebook page.
This is a 10-year-old bar situated near Plaza de Mayo. You open a wooden door which seems to be from a Tarantino movie and enter in a new world full of cheap beers and heavy sounds. The place is huge: the ground floor has the bar, and on the first floor you have 16 tables to eat and party. The basement is where all the live shows go on.
“On the ground floor we pass mostly rock and heavy metal, like Motorhead or Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath (the king),” says the bar tender while he points to a black and white poster on which is written “Bikers Only”.
The underground opens on the weekend and it depends on the night, but they can have metal, grunge, heavy rock and punk bands.
Rivadavia 846, Microcentro. See more on the Facebook page.
The capacity of this bar to radically change overnight the style of its atmosphere is amazing. They play all kinds of music, except electronic and cumbia. The place can shelter about 150 people and has two video projectors that are almost always replaying live concerts.
Though the bar has all types of indie and alternative music, they also have specific nights for punk/grunge/hardcore rock music, which don’t disappoint!
It’s also good value. From Monday to Friday you can head there for the “after office” (until 9pm) and get one pizza and two beers for $60. During the happy hour (till 12am) you can have two beers for $20 or one cocktail for $25.
Nicolas, who has been working there for two years as a manager, tells me that people’s style vary a lot in the bar. “It depends of the night, during a ‘grunge night’ for example, you’ll meet more pendejos (youngsters), but during the ‘classics night’ on Sundays, there is an older crowd of people who come to listen some Pink Floyd.”
The bar was created in 2006, and was originally located on 9 de Julio, before moving to the actual place, which is much larger, in 2011. Nicolas noted that “by the end of the year, we will install a stage to invite bands to play, as well as a terrace.”
Bonus Pick – Melonio Bar
You cannot expect a punk bar in Buenos Aires to be open every day, or it seems, even to be open at all. Melonio Bar purports to be open only on Fridays and Saturdays, but as your humble reporter discovered, that isn’t always be the case. After a couple of frustrated visits, the friendly kiosko owner opposite the bar insisted that Melonio remains in operation, so we’ve included it as a bonus option, but we warn that a visit might end in disappointment.
Montevideo 175. Here’s the Facebook page.