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After a successful inaugural year, Philadelphia’s Break Free Fest returns to The Rotunda this weekend for two days, bringing POC and other marginalized voices in the punk scene together and to the front. All week long leading up to the event, we’re highlighting some of the performers on the bill.

Complex / Philadelphia, PA

Complex is a hardcore punk band from Philadelphia who has been gigging around the city since 2016. Their first release, the Modern Mutants cassette, came out last year. This is the second time they will be playing at Break Free Fest. For this interview we spoke with lead singer EJ.

1) Who is in the band, how long have you been around for, and how would you describe what you’re doing to someone who might not be familiar?

We are a bunch of transplants from all over the place that came down to Philly to play music with friends and ended up in this band together now for two years. It’s pretty much Spanglish punk/hardcore sung in my homeland Miami’s native tongue [and] touching on the subjects of addiction, mental instability, normalized racism, and all kinds of terrible pills we all get forced to swallow in our daily lives.

2) What are you most excited about when it comes to Break Free Fest?

Seeing the spotlight finally getting shifted in the direction of marginalized people that have powerful messages they want to portray through music. The whole white boy rage via d-beat soundtrack has worn thin to many an ear and the yells of privileged nihilism have certainly lost meaning, if it even had any to begin with. And for me personally as a Latino, it’s nice to be around people that come from similar backgrounds and are into the same sort of thing; there’s certainly a form of camaraderie that is empowering in that.

3) Talk to me about your local scene/community and some bands or anything else going on that you want to rep:

A week ago we lost a very important member of our community. Pablo Avendaño was a political organizer, bike messenger, and all round positive force that has left a very large hole in our lives. Personally he was like a brother to me for over 15 years and we went through a lot of our formative years together and I learned so much from him. He was taken from us way too early but he taught so many people in and out of the music scene about all sorts of political theory from a grassroots perspective, especially in those wee hours of the night after shows engaging in thought-provoking conversation with him instead of talking about meaningless garbage.

As far as bands go, Philly’s been popping off with Humo, Zorn, Stagger, Soul Glo, Iron Wind, and Neophobe. NYC has been killing it too with Porvenir Obscuro, S.P.I.C., and Olor a Muerte, who we just played all together with. And Flor y Llanto just put out a fucking great demo in Chicago and are coming through on the way to Latino Punk Fest this August in NYC.

Break Free Fest takes place April 26th and 27th at The Rotunda at 40th and Walnut in West Philadelphia; single-day tickets and all-weekend passes to the all-ages event are available here.