Words by: Bobby Coleman | Images by: Rod Snyder
Ozomatli :: 07.30.08 :: Festival Pier :: Philadelphia, PA
English being the only language I speak and understand, I owe a great deal to two fans standing next to me at this show that were into to this band big time and helped to translate their lyrics. I've listened to Ozomatli on WXPN, a public radio station in Philadelphia, because of their diverse programming. Ozomatli stood out because so little Latin music ever seems to be played or appreciated outside of targeted formats, and they are a great band. I knew very little about them except that they make you want to move and express yourself by dancing.
Festival Pier is an urban setting on the Delaware River next to the enormous Ben Franklin Bridge. The concrete pier juts out into the water behind us, with the stage in front of the Philadelphia cityscape. They started off the show with "Dos Cosas Ciertas," which tells us two things are certain: change and death. The lyrics are an integral part of the message and the philosophy of this group's music, which focuses on the social responsibility of the individual in society. The message of their lyrics is ultimately revolutionary. Their music is an eclectic collection of sounds, somewhat exotic but borrowed from the surrounding world, including strange animal and other natural (and unnatural) noises are incorporated into the mix. The use of traditional Latin musical structures and instruments enhances the quality and enjoyment of their performance.
Ozomatli, who formed in Los Angeles, performed "City of Angels" from their new album, Don't Mess With the Dragon. This song is rock mixed with cool rap and ska. The chorus, bass and guitar combine with spoken word to form an entertaining and exciting blend. This live performance was not as polished as the studio version, but raw and engaging. The ethnically diverse band is a composite of the neighborhoods of their home city. Their interaction with the audience implores the fans to participate. They change instruments frequently, and at times have three drummers mixing up the show, which was anything but static. The energy level is high, and they are masters of integrating many styles. Notably, the band has toured the Middle East with the help of the U.S. State Department, and has brought influences from that region into their sound.
"Can't Stop" has an insistent bassline and rhythm that defies you to stand still, and that is the point of this band!
|Ozomatli :: 07.30.08 :: Philly|
Can't stop this love, can't stop/ We're movin'/ Can't stop this love/ Got to keep movin'/ We got faith in what love can do.
With social justice on their minds, Ozomatli is an epic, exhaled voice that lifts the spirits of the downtrodden and overwhelming burdened high unto heaven's gate and lays it down for the almighty to recon with. The cry for personal freedom and justice in revolutionary art is not a new one, and the great grandfathers and grandmothers have been singing this song back to the beginning of time. The ancient symbol Ozomatli has chosen to represent them is an Aztec word for a zoographic astrological monkey that is also the god of dance, fire, the new harvest and music.
They covered Bob Marley and their set touched on hip-hop, funk, rock, Latin, salsa, jazz and funk. Ozomatli want to create harmony in the world through music. They are passionate in their consciousness raising, and encourage listeners to be open to sharing the joys of living in an understanding and compassionate way. They combine a mix of the surreal and the politic, which mirrors life and creates theater with a great deal of humor and honesty. Embrace the chaos and take the music to the streets!
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