Blasting from the speakers on the forefront of the Pavilion stage, punk rock melodies infused with hip-hop, ska and a touch of world music sensibility slather the air beneath an overcast sky. In a renegade against the establishment, a musical call for political action roused Pachanga Fest goers May 11 and 12. Brooklyn-based band Outernational eschews the orthodox institution that creates a terrain with borders through their anthem-driven performances at Fiesta Gardens. The urge to dance, mosh and throw a fist-full of rebellion in the air is the effect of the Latin-American rhythms produced by the five-piece collective.
Their May 11th show marked the start of Pachanga’s fifth annual celebration, and through Outernational’s eminently powerful show, the hype was set for the remainder of the evening. Saturday brought upon sound issues, which tested lead singer Miles Solay’s temper. His reaction was to slam a guitar and “[turn] up the amps so you can’t hear the bad noise.” Naturally, Solay’s outburst coincides with Outernational’s message: to overcome the bad with music.
Leo Mintek (guitar), Miles Solay (vocals), Nate Hassan (bass), Jesse Williams (drums) and Dr. Blum (horns, keys and vocals), came together as “a band of brothers,” as Blum affectionately describes the group, building a camaraderie of growth and learning. The band’s political fervor was birthed from their sharing of opinions and experiences, from Solay’s studies of Bob Avakian to Mintek’s early discovery of the radical music of The Dead Kennedy’s, Public Enemy, Peter Tosh, and Fela Kuti. Mintek spoke out against a government that is “sucking the blood from the whole world,” his eyes widened with an evident receptiveness. This broad message was concentrated to a focus on the increasing border issues, with the release of their concept album “Welcome to the Revolution” and the anthem “Todos Somos Ilegales (We Are All Illegals).”
The 18-track compilation was unveiled in December and features collaborations with fellow Pachanga Fest performers Calle 13, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello. Since the quintet is not signed to a label, the members decided to leak the album based on donation—then again, what else would you expect from the anti-capitalists?
The festival was only one of the stops on Outernational’s two-month tour, during which the band kicked off their travels in Brownsville, Texas, and traveled along the Mexican-American border destined to arrive in California. They made their way back to Texas, tracking along the same path with different stops and will finish up in their home state of New York on May 24, all in efforts to spread the idea of the emancipation of humanity.
For Outernational, the honing of their raw performances has been successfully driven by their passion to influence people to transform the change into a reality, and relay the message that Blum so aptly conveyed: “the world is intolerable, but it does not have to be that way.”
Written by Elizabeth Hinojosa
Edited by Kelli Rhodes
Photos by Fuzebox Photography