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Underground Metal Special: Ecuador

Underground Metal Special: Ecuador

by Luxi Lahtinen

All interviews conducted by Luxi Lahtinen

"Dios, patria y libertad!"

That's the motto of the South American country of Ecuador, with a population of 18+ million inhabitants. Large populations often mean there can also be found some sort of underground metal music scene, which holds true regarding this country.

Ecuador, like nearly every other country on this planet, has at least a decent metal scene, although in the very same breath, do we really know what's happening in the underground metal scene there? I imagine most of us are totally clueless and unaware of all those bands that create metal music of many kinds and flavors. That is why we here at The Metal Crypt decided to contact a bunch of musicians from the Ecuadorian metal scene and let them tell us more about their bands and the underground metal culture in their home country. Now read on to become a tad wiser about the metal scene in Ecuador...

When you decided to form/join this band, what did you primarily want to achieve?

Toxic Avenger (TÓXICO): The formation of Tóxico was due to disappointment with people, and I wanted to capture all the rage and pain in the music that I love so much, metal.

Tóxico is a one-member band, so the entire project as such falls on me, Toxic Avenger. What I want to achieve with the band is to express my anger and pain towards humanity, share my thoughts and ideas, and have them captured.

Raul Cedeño (OBESSOUS): When we met and created the band, the first goal was to record an EP. We recorded one and released it in 2018. Currently, we are planning to record our second EP but this time we want a label behind us to finance it and negotiate with us regarding its distribution.

Javier (VAGINAL HERPES): We formed the band in February 2014.

Blasphemous Cannibal (SPECTROPHILIA): When I created my project Spectrophilia, what I wanted to achieve was to make brutal death metal with lyrics about horror, putrefaction, paraphilias, mental disorders, and all those things that seem fictitious but are not. Humans are more terrifying than some monsters from a horror movie.

Francis García (PLEASURE OF MUTILATE): What every musician wants is to try to achieve something big with your music and go somewhere with it eventually. It's a good goal, of course, but it is very difficult to make a breakthrough as the international metal scene has zillions of bands these days.

Ati Kapari Parya (LAMENTO FÚNEBRE): The band was formed in 2006, due to a need to vent my ideas and express my fears as a result of a very close experience with the pale lady, which over time transformed into admiration and later into respect for death and all the darkness that surrounds it. Since I was a teenager, I have been an extreme metal activist, and it was the main channel through which I decided to express this whole dark path with the atmosphere, the rawness, the euphoria, and the freedom that is generated when listening to or constructing a composition.

Pablo Orejuela (ABADON): Just to play live as much as possible. That was our primary goal, we were not thinking about recording or anything music business related because when we started there was no music business at all in our country.

Kevin Guzmán (EXTERTOR): Well, when I decided to form Extertor, I had planned to fulfill a childhood dream to create the music that I liked the most at that age. I remember that the dream arose at the age of 14 when I got my first electric guitar. At 17 I had the opportunity to create a small musical project with my schoolteacher. But when Extertor finally materialized, it was at the age of 20, with the main influence of thrash metal, followed by metal-punk and hardcore punk. Extertor had the purpose of touching on social issues, injustice, rebellion and even talking about the end times, that is, of the apocalypse; all this through powerful riffs that are in accordance with the rawness of the lyrics, to achieve a musical mix that generates in the listener the desire to awaken the fight and question their role in society, while venting their energy and rage in the mosh pit.

INRI IMMORTAL: We wanted to show our point of view about social problems and give a positive message.

Oswaldo Coba (MORDERAK): MorderaK was formed at the end of 2017, with an affinity for old-school thrash metal. Mainly we wanted to achieve a good base for a thrash movement that recovers the taste for music in this genre and that musical quality that is demanded among the bands. In part, we achieved this goal by seeing a great initial reception for bands like ours. Today the reality is different.

Eremus (DOMINION SHAITAN): I sought to create music that had an aura of mystery, with obscurantist overtones, not only musically with chords, scales, etc. but also in the lyrics, highlighting "Shaitan" the evil genius, a metaphorical entity that challenges and despises all types of deities created by man, especially those with Abrahamic roots. I have sought since then to reflect the duality of human consciousness, good and evil, light and darkness, and the sinister impact that the "grace" of faith has had on humanity.

Omar Olmos (DRIZZT): I decided to form Drizzt in the last year of high school with Mauricio Morales, a classmate, because we both enjoyed attending concerts near our city. Personally, I liked the energy of the bands, the mosh pits, and the sense of camaraderie among the audience. I had no idea how to play an instrument, so it was a learning process. Our motivation was simply to play on stage, feel the energy of the people, and see them enjoy our songs. There was never a motivation to be popular or known as musicians; we're just friends who enjoy music and like to play heavy metal.

Luis Herrera (MYSTERY SKIES): After having participated in several bands and projects, I felt that none of them met my expectations, however in the last one, I met an exceptional vocalist named Alejandra. She shared my tastes and my musical madness and, after chatting briefly, we decided to form a musical project that would break the mold and focus on what we liked, namely gothic, symphonic and especially DOOM metal, so I started composing. I am a multi-instrumentalist and that makes things easier for me, and I am also a producer.

Alejandra and I agreed that what we wanted to do with the project was simply to capture the music physically and enjoy it playing live, and I think we achieved that. We gave it a name (Mystery Skies) and we began this hard but comforting path of music in a country where art is the last piece of the link.

Neo Apolion (ECUADOR CADÁVER): I am Neo Apolion, drummer and founder of the band Ecuador Cadáver, formed in 2004.

With this band I wanted to show the world the intensity and unbridled fury of underground metal from Ecuador, mixing different styles such as death, thrash, and black metal.

Kiko Jácome (SUPERKABRAS): Superkabras was formed in 2012, after we left our previous band Cafeterasub (which is on hold right now). We decided to have the same members that we had in Cafeterasub; Jaime Molina on drums, Jose Luis Jácome Guerrero on bass, and myself Kiko Jácome on guitar. We wanted to continue making music with the only condition that we have fun and make instrumental metal music.

Gabriel Gavilanes (PRAELUDIUM IN AMENTIA): The main objective was the idea of combining female voices with guttural voices without focusing on one single genre; thus, you can easily find death, black, doom, and gothic metal in our compositions. The idea was to use the different influences, experiences, and knowledge of our members in compositions that would express what our minds and feelings needed to express.

What are you most proud of regarding your band?

Toxic Avenger (TÓXICO): I think I should not be proud of my band at the moment, because I think we have not yet managed to exploit the project's maximum potential. There is still a long way to go.

Raul Cedeño (OBESSOUS): Well, I guess that despite our age, we will continue doing what we like, with that '80s thrash metal sound, and the ease of composing songs.

Javier (VAGINAL HERPES): Having our debut album Sexually Active Nurses released on a Spanish label Base Record Production in 2020 and a split with Purulent Spermcanal from the Czech Republic being released on a Mexican label Gore Cannibal Records.

Blasphemous Cannibal (SPECTROPHILIA): I am proud of people's support, of how they like my music and what I express with it. I am not interested in money. I am just interested in leaving my mark with my music.

Francis García (PLEASURE OF MUTILATE): I feel very proud of having a deal with the Canadian record label CDN Records and I trust that together we will put our releases out in the future.

Ati Kapari Parya (LAMENTO FÚNEBRE): Well, it's been 16 years since I formed Lamento Fúnebre and I haven't had any problems doing things since I'm the only member in the band. I can do and undo things as I please and I don't have problems with anyone. In the beginning I didn't think I would go this far with the band and now I have been able to go out and play live, with session musicians, and I have had the luxury of choosing renowned musicians from the underground scene here in Ecuador. Things look good for the future in terms of new compositions and new works that I am about to release. What would be good is if the rotten passages of LF could be spread to the whole world. I am in that process.

Pablo Orejuela (ABADON): Hmmm... I think that we are very proud of our fans. We are a heavy metal band from a very small country, but we have played at festivals in front of 20 thousand people, and we were the headliner. That has been something very good for us. We have been the opening act for many great bands like Sepultura, Obituary, Mortal Sin, Rata Blanca, Obus, Baron Rojo, Kataklysm, and many more. And finally, some of our songs are considered "classics" by many people in the local scene.

Kevin Guzmán (EXTERTOR): What I am most proud since founding Extertor is the friendships I have formed. From the first lineup, which was quite short-lived and did not manage to play live, was Edison Pilicita (drums) and Joffre Cadena (bass), with my short experience managing a band at 20 years old. They had musical projects related to the genre and they gave me the experience of fitting into a group, since I only knew about composing and creating my own songs. They taught me how to polish them and complement them with the rest of the instruments. Then a great friend arrived on the drums, Felípe Echeverría, who would be a fundamental pillar in the growth and emergence of the band. Thanks to him the band was able to have a digital logo and the cover of the first EP. The recording was made in his house in a somewhat inexperienced way, but it sounded great for the first thing we did together, with the little we had. Unfortunately, this friend lost his life in 2020, but the friendship endures to this day, and it is that friendship that most marked my desire to continue with the band.

I am proud of the friends who were and are, and what fills my heart the most is having had the opportunity to do what I love alongside people who also love what they do. We currently have a stable lineup, made up of friends who have given me their support in many aspects, even outside the band.

INRI IMMORTAL: We are very proud of our musical and sound evolution over the years.

Oswaldo Coba (MORDERAK): We are proud of NOT BELONGING to the small and powerful rock musical circles, which have not encouraged the musical growth of rock in general because they have dedicated their interest to repeating external scenes with covers and interpretations that follow current trends without a good rock base. We must be honest about this. Ecuadorian rock with the most followers falls into stereotypes such as "true," "indigenist," or "depressive Gothic." The rest of the genres subsist on scenes that lack welcome and that take out their claws for internal fights.

Shaitán Mentor (DOMINION SHAITAN): What makes me proud of Dominion Shaitan is the passion for music that each of the members has, the constant learning over the years, and even the direct and indirect influence on how to work towards past members as well.

Omar Olmos (DRIZZT): I am very proud to release our music, and working on Ira, our first album, was a very gratifying experience. Besides doing it with our own resources in all aspects of production, part of the work was done during the COVID pandemic. We also participated in the Metal Battle of the northern region of South America, sharing the stage with the most representative and promising bands from Ecuador. These moments make me feel satisfied with Drizzt's musical career, but it's not the limit. We are already working on the pre-production of our second album.

Luis Herrera (MYSTERY SKIES): Having been able to do in a relatively short time what has taken other bands decades, recording two unreleased albums, one of them under the emblematic Ecuadorian record label Música Hibrida in collaboration with Green Revolucions from Colombia, being able to participate in events with international artists, and the last event that, although it was suspended due to organizational issues, was already a triumph for us, since we were going to share the stage with the greats Anneke Van Giersbergen and Marco Hietala.

Neo Apolion (ECUADOR CADÁVER): Of the satanist ideology, always firm in our convictions, without leaving behind aggressive music and merciless riffs.

Kiko Jácome (SUPERKABRAS): I personally think that if there is something I could be proud of, or feel unique about, it is that in Superkabras I use guitars that are built by me. Since my beginnings I have used several brands of guitars, many of which were borrowed. I had my first guitar at the age of 21 and it served me well. Learn and experiment with them. Then I met Bernie Flores, a luthier from the city who made me three guitars, which I also helped to construct. Since then, I have only used my Jácome Guitars, hehe... :D

Gabriel Gavilanes (PRAELUDIUM IN AMENTIA): What we are most proud of is the synergy built among our members in terms of constructing the songs; that is, while the compositions may not have lots of chords or be technically complex, those few chords are exploited as much as possible, so that each song may show different moods and stages. This, when transmitted to an audience, has resulted in very positive feedback during live shows.

How has the political and/or cultural tolerance towards metal bands changed in your country over the years compared to 10-15 years ago? Is it more acceptable to play metal music in your country these days?

Toxic Avenger (TÓXICO): I think that the acceptance of metal in my country has changed a lot. Before you didn't see many metal concerts, but I think that the tolerance towards extreme music has changed a lot over the years. It is more acceptable, and there are more metal bands in my city, but I think there is still not much of a market that exports the music outside the country.

I'm not too old to tell you what the old days were like, but in my poor perception, it is more acceptable and not frowned upon to play in a metal band, like in other times.

Raul Cedeño (OBESSOUS): In comparison to 15 years ago, it is perhaps the same. There is really no major repression, the movement is sustained, and there is no difficulty arranging concerts. However, there is no budget and very little audience, since South America is invaded by tropical music and reggaeton.

Javier (VAGINAL HERPES): A lot has changed. There are more concerts in our country these days.

Blasphemous Cannibal (SPECTROPHILIA): The reality has changed in parts. The reality was different some 10 or 15 years ago. There was a lot of stereotypical thinking in our country before, with people considering metalheads drug addicts and criminals, being victims of discrimination and even physical abuse.

As to whether it is more acceptable to make metal in my country, I currently believe it is more acceptable and is not as frowned upon as it was before. The mentality of some people has changed in terms of this diverse musical genre.

Francis García (PLEASURE OF MUTILATE): Yes, we get invitations to play at many events, but, unfortunately, we have had to reject most of them due to the economic stability of the band members, who had to migrate to different parts of the country for work.

Ati Kapari Parya (LAMENTO FÚNEBRE): The truth is that everything is self-managed here. There is no entity that cares if you have any musical proposal, not to mention metal, and in the years that I have been active in music it has always been the same, that is why I chose to form my own label to be able to release the material I make, and that applies to almost all the bands that exist here.

As for political tolerance, it is something unimportant, unless some international event is organized, which is where all these political entities try to participate for convenience.

Pablo Orejuela (ABADON): There has been a huge change in the last 15 years. When we started the band, metalheads were like sons of the devil or something like that. People ran away from us, the police stopped us all the time and searched us for drugs, weapons, etc., and the shows always ended with the police beating people. The whole scene was so freakin' underground. The shows didn't have police authorization and the sound was terrible. Today everything is different, there is a lot of tolerance for us and metal shows, and you can see kids with metal t-shirts everywhere and everything is OK.

Kevin Guzmán (EXTERTOR): It's a good question, but I can only talk to you about the last 12 years of the scene, which is basically how long I've been present in it. I remember that metal or punk events in the city of Quito were allowed as these two genres of music have always been related to each other, and even confused. Society classifies them as "rockers" whether you are a metalhead or a punk (it's not really something that bothers me). The segregation of musical genres has not been so much in recent times; rather, I would like to mention that it has been the metalheads themselves, those who reject the emergence of new groups or proposals of the extreme genre, such as hardcore, within the events.

Furthermore, it could be highlighted that a fateful event in the history of metal in Ecuador allowed the opening of society to give spaces to groups. I'm talking about the fire at the Factory nightclub on April 19, 2008, where many metalheads lost their lives, due to the negligence of the people who rented the space for a concert. The "Factory Never Again" event is a free space so that metalheads can express themselves and not have to hide like they did in that fateful accident. We hope to one day be able to play at that concert.

INRI IMMORTAL: There are still some stigmas about metalheads, but nowadays there's new doors opened and more tolerance, but not too much.

Oswaldo Coba (MORDERAK): When talking about political/cultural tolerance, we must say this:

Rock here in Ecuador is totally political. It contradicts itself because it claims to hate politics in its songs and in events managed privately or publicly, but only those who have friends in institutions or music producers play events. That has not changed for 10 or more years. Acceptable metal is the kind that godfathers play at every event regardless of quality.

Culturally, the false appropriation of the indigenous concept with rock is evident. It became fashionable to convert popular music from the Andean area to metal but there is a seriously sectarian overtone as this music never incorporates other tropical or musical styles of the country, it hides and belittles them. This is not talked about; this is kept silent.

Today, large events give acceptance if you put in something indigenous or have a native makeup show, but they deny participation if your talent does not incorporate their particular tastes. It is a fact that participation in cultural events does NOT have a contest process to choose the best talents in any organization that promotes culture, much less the lack of knowledge of the cultural manager. This is where the money goes.

Metal in Ecuador is acceptable if the organizer knows you, not if the music is good.

Eremus (DOMINION SHAITAN): Being pragmatic, the honest answer is no.

Ecuador is a country with enormous cultural wealth but also with a strong religious position that generates stereotypes and discrimination. Although "metal" is now considered for festivals developed by the state, it is due to the constant struggle of metal representatives and above all, the loss of human lives in the terrible tragedy of Factory. Since then, there has been a slight opening to the metal movement, but there is still a long way to go because there is even sabotage among the metalheads themselves, such as division and envy.

Omar Olmos (DRIZZT): I am too young to tell you firsthand about the repressive atmosphere in Ecuador in the '80s and '90s. I know that during that time, the police would pursue people just for having long hair or wearing leather jackets. This discrimination led to tragedies like the fire at the Factory disco where a gothic metal concert was taking place. I believe that since that incident, society has become more open to people who like metal. The younger generations don't seem to be impressed by the aesthetic; they see it as a lifestyle and let us live it freely. Currently, I am a Literature teacher in a high school, and my bandmates work in various fields without experiencing discrimination. I think it's a good time to be part of this community and to be able to express ourselves freely.

Luis Herrera (MYSTERY SKIES): If the truth is that today it is common for public spaces to be open for expressions of extreme art such as metal, what is needed, and especially in a country like Ecuador, is state support. We cannot compare ourselves with the great music industry that exists in Europe or the United States; therefore the local artist must receive incentives to be able to continue creating and subsisting with music in this case.

Neo Apolion (ECUADOR CADÁVER): Nowadays it is no longer barbaric like before. I mean, a long time ago the police came to concerts and closed venues, they evicted the bangers, and the repression was very ruthless.

Kiko Jácome (SUPERKABRAS): Yes, national metal music certainly evolved and is a bit more recognized, thanks to the current times. I have been playing in bands since I was 14 years old and if Metallica had arrived in the country at that time, they surely would not have filled a place with more than 1,000 people.

Things are different today, but it is not that metal music is so accepted because it is in our country as it always has been there in our culture in one way or the other, much thanks to traditional media and their preferences.

Gabriel Gavilanes (PRAELUDIUM IN AMENTIA): It is definitely more acceptable to play and listen to metal music in Ecuador today; this has become evident through the production of different international concerts and festivals that 10-15 years ago would have been only a dream.

15-20 years ago, metal fans would be violently attacked by the police, their hair would be cut, and they would be sent to prison without any kind of justification, based on their appearance. Additionally, the media would publish or broadcast discriminatory information, encouraging the "common citizens" to become afraid of metal fans and their concerts; a consequence of this was the difficulty in organizing concerts.

It was very difficult to find adequate and safe venues for concerts, which in April 2008 resulted in a fire that killed 19 people, including members of different bands, and members of the audience.

This generational change has also made it somewhat easier to accept, listen, and play metal in our country as people and metal fans are better informed and less prejudiced towards this kind of music.

Ecuador, isn't considered a hotbed for metal music. Have you and your band ever thought of relocating to make your career somewhere else?

Toxic Avenger (TÓXICO): The truth is, as you say, that Ecuador is not a hotbed of metal music.

There are very few bands, if any, that have managed to attract the attention of large or small production companies from outside the country. It is unfortunate because in Ecuador a very good scene of new bands is emerging, and the few that manage to emerge do so independently, self-producing their music and records.

Ecuador is NOT a metal hotbed, but it doesn't mean that there aren't very good bands, it's just a matter of digging deeper into the Ecuadorian underground scene. Believe me, you will find very good bands. Being able to achieve something more, I don't see as necessary. I do Thrash Metal with a lot of love and respect and whether I am in the United States, Canada, or Europe I would continue doing it regardless of where I am. I do it for love and passion.

Raul Cedeño (OBESSOUS): It could be an option, obviously with a contract in hand and with our families, of course. Our average age is 45, so it's going to be for us difficult to go on an adventure alone.

Javier (VAGINAL HERPES): The truth is we are not proud of being Ecuadorians and taking our name to other countries.

Blasphemous Cannibal (SPECTROPHILIA): Looking at the situation in my country, making metal is not a very viable source of making money although it is true that I admire the scene of countries like Finland, Sweden, etc. It would be impossible for me to move to live in any of those countries; however, I feel good doing metal in my country.

Francis García (PLEASURE OF MUTILATE): We have always asked ourselves and said if there was an opportunity to leave this country and dedicate ourselves 100% to this band, we would love to do it, do doubt.

Ati Kapari Parya (LAMENTO FÚNEBRE): It is something that has been going through my head, however, as the head of the family this idea is a bit counterintuitive since I have a "normal" work life. If I did it, I would obviously have to leave with everyone here, get a job according to what I do and I have worked at for many years at. I see it as difficult because of the language, as well, but if the circumstances were in favor of the good of the family unit, I would do it without hesitation.

Pablo Orejuela (ABADON): Yes, I have considered that possibility, but for many reasons we haven't made this move. In addition to that, I have also considered starting to write songs in English since it is the universal language of rock and metal, but we have not done that yet, either.

Kevin Guzmán (EXTERTOR): I considered it once, but I have no idea what will happen tomorrow. I know that my country in general does not have support for art, much less for the emergence of bands of this genre, but despite this I want to be able to position myself as a reference for metal in my country. That is the dream of my 14-year-old self. When I listened to bands like Basca, Muscaria, Notoken, Mortal Decision, Avathar, Extinger, etc., I remember saying to myself that I wanted to one day play on the same stage as them, on those huge platforms, and see that the mosh pits for Extertor are as big as the ones I experienced when I was a teenager listening to those bands.

I aspired to play in other countries for a while, but moving is something I have no idea about yet, maybe yes, maybe not.

INRI IMMORTAL: We never thought about it because now we have more tools to work with, but if there's an opportunity, we should take it.

Oswaldo Coba (MORDERAK): Ecuador has not promoted its own rock because no organization, organizer, or record label sees money in rock. Metal here is a game. Since the '80s, there have been no new or good bands that stand out for talent and not for money to play or promote themselves.

Since 2019, we hoped to move our music outside of our country; mainly to Colombia because the rock scene there is more open to meeting bands. They have more participation in their rock cultures in the spaces of the cities and thanks to this we also build the taste for our music that today is often heard in Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Peru, and the USA. Not on a large scale, but constantly on the radio stations that support a band not as representatives of a country but as promoters of good music without a fixed flag.

Eremus (DOMINION SHAITAN): Music, at least metal, is often done out of conviction, passion, and love rather than as a profession or lucrative activity. Furthermore, the social, political, and economic situation has forced many talented self-taught musicians to abandon not only music, but also their own country to emigrate and thus improve their quality of life. It is a negative reality that has become common in Latin America.

Omar Olmos (DRIZZT): It's a sad reality that Ecuador is not the ideal environment for the growth of a metal band. We are far behind compared to Colombia, Argentina, or Brazil, which have stronger music scenes. In recent years, with the organization of events like the Metal Fest, Ecuador has gained a place on the map, but the headliners are foreign bands, and local bands have only a space at the beginning of the event. As a band, we haven't considered that possibility. Some of my bandmates are already parents, and we all have a deep connection to Ecuador. Many of our songs are inspired by our social and political context. It would be very difficult to leave Ecuador. We dream of touring in other countries, but our base will always be in Ecuador.

Luis Herrera (MYSTERY SKIES): The ideal situation would be that in Ecuador making art is taken seriously not only by the authorities, but also by the musicians themselves, because the problem is complex and involves artists, businessmen, the government and also the public, who always prefers and values foreign things more than national metal. The dream of moving is distant since we have our families here and that is an anchor. However we will continue producing metal as long as our bodies last, out of passion, out of love, that it moves us. With Mystery Skies I have spent more than I have earned, but here in South America it is always like this, that is why we have to work on other things and we cannot dedicate ourselves 100% to music.

Neo Apolion (ECUADOR CADÁVER): The truth is NO, we have our professions that have nothing to do with music, as well as our families. We make metal out of conviction and passion for dark art. We know that we cannot reach the masses so easily, however, creating and expanding our music to the world in some way gives us enormous satisfaction.

Kiko Jácome (SUPERKABRAS): This question is like a direct hit to the ear!! And, of course, the idea of making a band is to transcend national borders and reach various, new places. We have had experience with two dates in Colombia and next year we want to play in as many places as possible.

As for moving to another country, the main problem is visas. I have been rejected on two occasions.

Gabriel Gavilanes (PRAELUDIUM IN AMENTIA): Honestly, the idea of relocating to another country in order to make our music career there is a very difficult one due to economic factors.

As you mentioned in your question, Ecuador is not really a hotbed for metal music or arts in general, thus, most musicians in our country cannot survive solely on their incomes as musicians. All of us need to have a 9-5 job to pay the bills and invest that income in our families and our music.

Another aspect that could contribute to this is that the metal scene in our country is still immature and too competitive. We still have not learned that our fellow metal musicians need and deserve the same respect and support regardless of the genre they play. Once again, this is also changing slowly so that we can see different bands get together and organize concerts without depending on third parties to organize such events.


















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