Ana Tijoux brought a spirited, spicy performance of her Chilean rap and hip-hop style music to The Hub at University of California, Santa Barbara on Friday, April 24. With a rockin’ live band and a ton of spunk, she lit up the stage and inspired her audience to dance their hearts out—even the tragically uncoordinated ones which I had the pleasure of standing behind.
Tijoux’s personal life and music career has brought her all around the world and earned her international recognition. As a young girl, her parents fled Chile to become political refugees in France, away from the coup d’etat occurring in their own country, which she eventually returned to at the age of 16. By the young age of 18, Tijoux had already begun integrating herself into the music scene of Chile and achieved national fame at the age of 20, with a solo career kicking off at just 29. Her music focuses on love, war, her aspirations, her turbulent upbringing, female empowerment in the face of oppression, and so much more.
As second-year Joaquin Peres stated, “Her style and her backing band were so precise. I felt like I was seeing something really special.” The energy within The Hub was unmistakable, and it would be a delight if Ms. Tijoux chose to return to our campus for another fun-filled evening. However, with two Grammy awards and a career exponentially on the rise, it might be a while before her music graces our stage once more.
Though Ms. Tijoux’s performance was inspirational and addressed social issues in a mature light, I left the concert with incredibly mixed feelings. Her warm up artist Alas Nocturnas’s incredibly bitter feelings expressed within her performance were what stood out in my mind. Her act began with an introduction detailing how she was born in Mexico and immigrated here with her mom five years ago. At first the audience was certainly responsive and enjoyed her clearly heartfelt and passionate songs about the struggles of immigration and her desire to learn and embrace her native heritage. I, too, enjoyed her performance at first and felt that her music was raw and clearly very cathartic in its expression, which was a wonderful thing to watch. Then, however, she began a song which drew me out of and put me off of the performance entirely.
Nocturnas’ songs condemn the rampant prejudice that she has tragically encountered in America, which unarguably needs telling and reforming. That being said, she performed a song which repetitively and enthusiastically encourages its listeners to “kill a cop every day, kill a cop in your head.” I would like to assume that she meant “kill” in a metaphorical sense, but the prejudice that she so detests when directed towards her is clear within her unflinching categorization of all police officers as pigs that must be taken out and killed. Greeting the prejudice—or perhaps even violence—that she has received in the past with further prejudice and violence is not the answer. I was disgusted and appalled by this song, and I was not alone. Many people walked out during, or immediately following, this performance.
Of course, I can never understand the hardships that she has been through, nor can I understand the treatment that she has received from police officers in the past, but to encourage that kind of violence at an event protected by police officers is unfathomable. It is a shame that such a fun concert from Tijoux was missed by those who left during this song, and that the performance was tainted for observers like myself who left feeling angry that such a ridiculous sentiment could inspire others to cheer. Acceptance and growth within future generations of all ethnicities and cultural backgrounds require cooperation on both sides of the dispute, and anger from one side or the other is certainly not the solution.