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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Ozomatli channels crowd’s energy

    While the pounding bass of dub crawl trickled through downtown Tucson on Friday night, the Rialto offered a less electronic, more cultural alternative. At 9 p.m. the theatre was thick with the smell of cologne and alcohol as hundreds of diehard fans shoved towards the stage in anticipation of a powerhouse set by

    Ozomatli, the biggest, baddest name in Latin hip-hop/rock fusion.

    The crowd was explosive as the band’s seven members galloped onstage, instantly channeling their excitement and energy into an entrancing performance of their hit “”Chango.”” Trumpet, saxophone, flamenco guitar and stampede-force percussion got the entire theatre ðððð- Ozomatli included – dancing right off the bat while Justin ‘El Niño’ Porée proved his skills as one of the most persuasive emcees in the business, encouraging bouncing, clapping and chanting in the crowd before the conclusion of the first song.

    When the audience cheers subsided, Porée took center stage and alerted the crowd, “”For those of y’all that don’t know, we’re Ozomatli – and right now, we’re going to take you on a journey.”” More appropriate words could not have been selected; over the next 90 minutes Ozomatli kicked out the jams, their fierce blend of rap, rock and reggae inciting an all-night,

    audience-wide dance party that only built upon its own momentum as the night went on.

    Early in the set Ozomatli played “”City of Angels,”” a homage to the city where they got their start and are still very much connected to even as they garner worldwide acclaim. The highlight of the first half of the show, though, was definitely “”Cumbia de los muertos,”” an impossibly danceable Latin groove that launched into a ten-minute instrumental jam session, showcasing the entire band’s unique talents. Bassist Wil-Dog Abers hopped side-to-side as he kept the rhythm with both his strings and his feet, vocalist Asdru Sierra switched seamlessly between lyrics, trumpet, and keyboard, and percussionist Jiro Yamaguchi faced off on center stage with sax-player Ulises Bella, who rocked an impressive four-string requinto with lightning-paced strumming.

    The set wound down with other Ozo hits including the festive duo of “”Saturday Night”” and “”After Party,”” which kept the tireless crowd on their toes and at the top of their lungs. The boys even threw in a reggae cover of Sublime’s “”April 29, 1992,”” causing the Rialto walls to swell with the screams of a thousand people echoing “”Wanna let it burn, wanna wanna let it burn!”” During their penultimate song, the band invited four special guests onstage to play backup percussion: the “”next generation of Ozomatli,”” the children of the band members.

    The performance did not end after the final chords were struck, however; as is customary with Ozo shows, the band leapt off the stage carrying whistles and drums and began to serpentine through the enthusiastic audience, playing a celebratory march as the crowd chanted “”Ozomatli, ya se fue, ya se fue!”” – the Latin rock equivalent of “”Elvis has left the building””. The chanting degenerated into “”Ole, ole ole ole!”” and even “”U of A!”” for a while, but ultimately “”Ozomatli”” was the word on everyone’s lips as the band disappeared backstage and the massive audience filed onto Congress Street, still dancing between labored gasps for fresh air.

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