Concert review: Ozomatli

ozoIf you don’t dance at an Ozomatli show, you are not human. After the 2009 Langerado festival in Miami was abruptly canceled, the Los Angeles-based act scrambled to book a South Florida show, and they came through with an explosive performance Saturday at the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale.

Ozomatli’s genre classification is limited only to the song they are playing. They touch upon hip-hop, funk, reggae and rock, all mish-mashed together under the common blanket of Latin music: salsa, merengue, cumbia and norteño. It mind sound messy, but it only helps create an infectious blend of music that is guaranteed to make you move.

The band burst out with a rousing rendition of “Dos Cosas Ciertas” from their 2001 album Embrace the Chaos, followed by “La Gallina.” This led to the introduction of rapper Chali 2na (formerly of Jurassic 5) who is back in the mix, after leaving Ozomatli years ago.

For almost two hours, Ozomatli did not slow down. The band had the most energetic, animated performance I’ve yet to see (they blew The Roots out of the water, energy-wise).

Focusing mostly on their self-titled 1998 debut album, and their latest, 2007’s Don’t Mess With The Dragon, the group plowed through some of their best songs, including “Ya Viene El Sol,” “Can’t Sop,” “Cumbia De Los Muertos” (which included extended solos and a cover of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good”), and “Super Bowl Sundae.”

They also performed a new song, “Ashes.” The song was upbeat, danceable, and featured a new verse from Chali 2na.

Upon finishing the last song, “Como Ves,” Ozomatli jumped into the crowd armed with drums, percussion, and horns, and started a conga-line with the audience while playing a medley that included Debbie Deb’s “Lookout Weekend” and the Sesame Street theme song.

The band’s current incarnation includes the so-called core six members: Asdru Sierra on lead vocals, trumpet and keys, Ulises Bella on sax and tons of other odds and ends, Raul Pacheco on guitar, Wil-Dog Abers on bass, Justin Poree on percussion and rap vocals, and Jiro Yamaguchi. The tour also features Mario Calire on drums and  Chali 2na.

The complete setlist of the show:

  1. Dos Cosas Ciertas
  2. La Gallina
  3. Cut Chemist Suite
  4. Ya Viene El Sol
  5. City of Angels
  6. Ashes
  7. Can’t Stop
  8. O Le Le
  9. Cumbia De Los Murtos
  10. ?
  11. La Temperatura
  12. After Party
  13. Here We Go
  14. ?
  15. Super Bowl Sundae
  16. Chango
  17. Saturday Night
  18. Como Ves
  19. Exit medley

For great live audio from Ozomatli, make sure to check out All the Way Live.

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2 thoughts on “Concert review: Ozomatli

  1. Nice review. Ozomatli kills. Wish I could have been there. They’re one of the bands that does it right.

  2. Adrian's Dad says:

    This and my first Ozomatli concert (a freebie courtesy of Volkswagen and the South Florida Auto Show about 4 years ago) were definitely the most enjoyable, fun concerts I’ve ever attended.

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