Above: Music video for “Radio Capital” from La Vida Bohème‘s most recent album (Nuestra, June 2011).
Four young musicians from Caracas, decked out in paint-spattered overalls, are just entering the international spotlight in a bid to reclaim what they call a “party of our own.”
In July 2011 the band, La Vida Bohème, made its U.S. debut performing its latest album, Nuestra, at the twelfth annual Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC) in New York.
The album, a mix of alternative punk rock sounds and vibrant dance rhythms, wowed the same audiences that helped launch the careers of now-famous names, such as Manu Chao, Jorge Drexler and Calle 13. In September Nuestra was nominated for two 2011 Latin Grammy awards. “Nuestra speaks to parts of our popular culture we share[…]and that shape our identities as Venezuelans: old songs, old city street names—things we have forgotten about. That’s what’s ours,” says bandleader Henry D’Arthenay, 23.
The Caracas indie music scene isn’t very well known outside Venezuela, says D’Arthenay, but there’s been a recent surge of new bands that he hopes will promote a sense of fraternity among the city’s youth in a polarized country that is facing an uncertain future.
And the paint? Early on, each member used a distinctive color to paint his hands and mouth. Once they started mixing the colors, the band members decided to make the process interactive. Nowadays, they go on stage wearing all white, and the fans splash them with colors in the musical equivalent of a food fight. It feels “cathartic,” says D’Arthenay.