When Emiliano Brancciari left his mother’s home in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1997 and crossed La Plata River to live with his father in Buenos Aires, Argentina, his departure was motivated as much by his mother’s concern over the bleak financial future musicians face as the breakup of his band, No Te Va Gustar, for their lack of commercial success.
In Buenos Aires, Brancciari missed Montevideo so much, he wrote a song about his pain, “No Era Cierto”—which translates as “it wasn’t true.” “I realized that Montevideo was my home, where I had my friends, my loved ones. I wanted to return,” he says in Spanish. A few months later, he returned, the band reformed and “No Era Cierto” struck such a chord locally that it helped propel No Te Va Gustar—which means “you won’t like it”—to success.
Martin Medina—ex-club manager of Salt Lake City’s Karamba and concert promoter— recalls how, as a youth, he’d watch a TV show that used “No Era Cierto” as its theme song. The show followed the lives of Uruguayans living abroad, some of whom would cry over the national anthem. While growing up in Uruguay, Medina struggled to understand such nostalgia. Now having lived in Utah for nine years, listening to that anthemic rock song never fails to move him. For a Latino living in exile, whether self-imposed or forced by other circumstances, the opening lines, “Come home when you want/ You’re always expected for dinner,” inevitably bring a lump to the throat.
As such, Medina is bringing No Te Va Gustar as support for Argentine mega-band Los Autenticos Decadentes—a first concert in Utah for both ensembles. Medina notes that beyond the 3,000 Uruguayans who live in Utah, the appeal of both bands should be ample in a state that saw a nationally renowned ska movement born in Provo in the ’90s. No Te Va Gustar, he says, also evolved from ska, albeit through the Cadiz, Spain-born murga—which, in Uruguay, enjoys a popularity as a form of social and political protest—along with flourishes of reggae and rock-roots that headliner Los Autenticos share. Both are great live bands, which have toured together before in Europe and share a similar level of energy, Branciarri says.
Where they differ is their approach to their respective material. While Los Autenticos’ lyrics are irreverent, full of dark irony and the slang of the Argentine nightlife—“They are jokesters,” Medina says—No Te Va Gustar, who were nominated in 2011 for the Latin Grammy for Best Rock Vinyl and Best Rock Song, has a thematic density and ambition that reflects their deep roots in Uruguay’s recent history.
No Te Va Gustar have explored Uruguay’s dark history under the 1970s military- dictatorship in songs such as “Tirano”—“Tyranny” in English. The band’s lyrics have also touched on the struggles of Uruguayans to deal with the harsh economic realities that, as in the song “Pensar,” sometimes leads people “to take the [criminal] path,” Brancciari says. The song “La Masacre de Floresta” recalls the three unarmed youths who were shot dead by police in an Argentine gas station.
No Te Va Gustar also riffs off the complex relationship between the United States and South America. Rather than be critical of the United States, though, Brancciari says, their songs argue that life in South America has its own merits. “There’s no above or below; to turn things upside down is valid,” Brancciari says, referring to the typical perception that life in “el Norte” is somehow better.
No Te Va Gustar’s visit to Utah will inevitably feature “No Era Cierto,” which the band generally plays near or at the end of their set. While there may be many eyes glittering with tears, Branciarri will be singing his much-celebrated overture to one small group in particular that night. He has family in Utah he hasn’t seen in a long time, who moved to the United States “for economic reasons,” he says. He’s looking forward to reuniting with them, albeit briefly.
For a song that he’s played time and again, playing “No Era Cierto” on this evening is “going to have a special weight,” Brancciari says.
NO TE VA GUSTAR
w/ Los Autenticos Decadentes
400 W. South Temple
Friday, July 6, 9 p.m.
$35 in advance, $45 day of show