A little translation projectPosted: February 6, 2011
Oh reader, what glory is the world of Porteño indie rock! I have had two forays, quite distinct but equally lovely, into this particular cultural phenomenon. The first was a show that an Argentine friend of mine played in the barrio San Telmo at a bar called La Cigale. This odd fellow looks a little bit like a porteño Prince (or the artist formerly known as). Seriously. He wears, always, un chaleco with some sort of ironic t-shirt–though, to be honest, I’m not sure if they’re ironic or not in his world, but they certainly work that way in mine. From one of his ears dangles a silver feather. This manner of dress, from which I have not once seen him stray, functions as a kind of signature for him. He plays guitar and sings accompanied by another guitarist and vocalist, a bassist and a drummer. He claims his music is influenced by the Strokes but I’m not sure I hear it.
This show was more or less like any amateur show you can attend in the states: a crowd of onlookers far too small to warrant the volume, an entirely unnecessary smoke machine (a good half of the audience was smoking during the performance), and crappy acoustics. The beer was overpriced but delicious. The most appreciative audience members were friends of the band.
My second jaunt into this cultural underbelly (and what will likely be of greater interest to you, dear readers) is a little project in which I’m taking part. I’ve been asked by another local musician to help translate Belle & Sebastian lyrics into English. So far we’ve met once and managed our way through three songs. But imagine, if you will, trying to explain “Stars of Track and Field” in a language that isn’t your own. Or trying to communicate a Bob Dylan reference, or a common phrase like “caught a glimpse.” In those three hours I learned more local slang than I have during the rest of my nearly month-long stay here. He was so thrilled with the translations that we’re continuing the work tomorrow (and, likely, throughout my time here).
This musician has a real obsession with the aesthetic of the 80s, by the way. Too early to say whether this is a broad cultural phenomenon among hipsters in this town or specific to these two.