A guide to Trinidad and Tobago

I’d like to say there’s a punk scene in Trinidad and Tobago.

There isn’t. 

Is there even a rock scene? Probably not.

Why? To me, a scene requires a foundation. Pillars of support so that it’ll develop legs and run on its own.

Caribbean-wise, I’ve heard and reviewed bands that come too few and far between. I can barely remember their names. Maybe they weren’t that good. Or maybe because there are just so few.

But seeing as I’m limited to physically touching the ‘scene’ in Trinidad (as Tobago isn’t a land for rockers), I’ll stick by my stance of – ‘there’s no scene.’

There are just niches, cliques and folks who come together and make snide remarks at each other’s genre. 

Wait, I think that’s changed.

Let me rewind to my days of youth. 

In the ‘90s and 2000s, there were great bands locally making metal music, even progressive, hardcore and such. Few were punk or post-hardcore. Some were experimental, some psychedelic and some… alternative. That’s because most bands hired were only hired to do covers. Most contests, bar the epic guitar-wars, were done based on the best cover band. I won’t call names or really name-drop contests but there was a strong urge to supress originality. If you did original music, you’d end up playing a best friend’s birthday and… well, that’s it. Trinidad is focused on promoting soca, chutney and for those who don’t know, they’re our Carnival music, probably aimed at tourism… and helping regress our society into one of sexuality and decadence. Did I mention rock music here doesn’t help sell sex?

Anyways, these all add up to the powers that be – corporate and such – wanting products and not art. That’s a recipe for a ‘no-scene scenario.’ Some conformed, got a piece of the pie… and folded. Some even played Europe. Some held true to their ideals… and ended up becoming a number on a resume.

Yet when a few bands or promoters encouraged the DIY aspect of things, race factored in. Or more the segregation by location. Punk shows were held in West Trinidad, where the only bands and only crowds were mostly ‘white boys.’ They had clean-cut venues and cute audiences. Then there were the metal-heads (consisting of alcohol-fuelled ‘other ethnicities’) who did their stereotype no good by being smashed and encouraging something that was very different from moshing and thrashing. This was in Central, South and the East. There wasn’t the vibe of exchanging sweat with boys and girls, strangers, in unison to change the world – but more a sense of polarisation, where each clique had shit to say about each other. Those banters, along with no airplay on the radio (because promoters and stations did, and still do, consider originality to be the antichrist) all led to a crabs-in-a-barrel mentality of each band (majority) cutting down each other. Yeah, hard to have a foundation when everyone shits in the cement, right?

There was no unity. No genre propped up each other. Pop-punk was pussy-music. Metal was rum-music. Those were the two major labels. 

It was and still is obvious when ‘rock shows’ are held – and DJs have zero fucking clue about diversity. They think KoRn and Linkin Park show variety in their set. Ridiculous. 

I’m yet to meet (many) folks who listen or know of Basement, La Dispute, Frank Turner, Pity Sex, The Melvins or so many bands we see covered at Punknews, AP (when they actually show foresight), Property of Zack and all the others I left out. However, some kids now, who kudos to them for being more open-minded in their tastes and in their outlay of material, have just gotten into Thursday, Scary Kids Scaring Kids… or think The Used is still ‘underground.’ It’s odd seeing folks now opening up to music that to me is so old, but I’ve been and will further be, in their shoes. No judgement made. It’s all about sharing the music, right?

Point I’m making is, there were too many close-minded people who never wanted to broaden their horizons. I did. So I became a sportswriter. Music journalist. And overall, crazy-fuck. 

That allowed me to really listen to so much more. And become more metal. More punk. More hipster.

Than I was back in high school. I was always one who gave everything a chance. So my tastes varied.

I’m still not punk. Still not metal. Still not indie. Still not post-hardcore.

And I’m no longer up for local shows. They’re unprofessional. With kids who think individual skill means their band rocks.

Dead fucking wrong.

I’d like to DJ a show someday and really see how fucking oblivious they are.


Punk. Metal. Indie. It’s all subjective. It’s all attitude. It’s all subversion.

And at times, it’s all not.

So until the Caribbean learns there’s more outside of Green Day, Fall Out Boy, Iron Maiden…

There’ll never be a scene.

Maybe if I open a bar and have a Punknews Thursday, that’ll change. Until then, I’m pretty cool just making these connections over the internet with bands I’ll never see. 

Then we’ll change the world. And I’ll bet the Caribbean would be the last to accept change. After all, we’re still ready to lynch gay people. Says a lot.

Shout out to Orange Sky, Incert Coin, Necropolis, Transylvania Zoo, Anti-Everything, Oddfellows Local, Jointpop and Tripped & Falling. They’re good, although not all are together still. But just to gauge how strong the scene is… see how much of their music you can find online. That’ll explain this essay.

And also, most think ‘bandcamp’ is a line from American Pie.

Disclaimer: This view is my own and not affiliated with any site or editor. If you’re from Trinidad and reading this, and I don’t know your band, you’re probably making fucking shit music. But it’s okay. Nothing’s better than making shit. Because it gives us a chance to do better. But at day’s end, put your heart and soul into it and as long as you’re happy, you’ve won. Even if everyone else hates it, stay true.

Posted in Features, Spotlight and tagged , .

Renaldo Matadeen

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