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Ozomatli @ Highline Ballroom

Ozomatli @ Highline Ballroom

I missed RubbleBucket…again….for the SIXTH time this year.  We have concluded that I am not meant to see RubbleBucket.  Period…and when the day comes where I finally do see them, HOLY SHIT, watch out!  It’s going to be one of those show karma moments when they play their best show ever!  The heavens will open up and swallow us whole. So, sorry RubbleBucket…one day when the stars align.

Ozomatli @ Highline Ballroom

Ozomatli @ Highline Ballroom

SO LATE!!! I arrived at the Highline Ball Room around 9:45pm after the most ridiculous of subway mistakes.  I made my way up front and a member of RubbleBucket said, “Get Ready For Ozomatli!”  Seriously? You have GOT to be kidding!!  I was at least hoping for an hour long set?  Found out later on that they had started precisely at 9pm.  Apparently, at midnight, The Highline Ball Room turns into a dance club.  So, they clear out the building and make people repay to continue the dance party. Yeah….good ‘ol greed wins again.

Ozomatli @ Highline Ballroom

Ozomatli @ Highline Ballroom

I had never seen Ozomatli.  I knew they were Grammy winners and I knew they were a Latin Funk group from California.  I had some pretty high expectations because whenever I said there name in reference to attending this show, 95% of the reactions were severely positive:  “OH, YES! You will love them!” or “Awesome! They are so much fun!”  So, needless to say, I was looking forward to this kick ass party I was apparently going to be a part of.  Ozomatli is a Latin/Funk/Hip-Hop and everything-in-between kind of band.

Ozomatli @ Highline Ballroom

Ozomatli @ Highline Ballroom

The band consists of:

* Wil-Dog Abers: Bass, Background Vocals
* Ulises Bella: Saxophone, Clarinet, Requinto Jarocho, Keyboard, Melodica, Background Vocals
* Mario Calire: Drums
* Raúl “El Bully” Pacheco: Guitar, Tres, Jarana, Lead Vocals
* Justin “El Niño Porée: Percussion, Rap Vocals
* Asdru Sierra: Trumpet, Keyboard, Lead Vocals
* Jiro Yamaguchi: Tabla, Percussion, Background Vocals

The members of Ozomatli stampeded through the entire 18-song set without a break and started the show off with more physical energy the MOMENT they hit the stage then I have ever witnessed in any other band.  And they never EVER stopped…EVER!  Just out of control, spaztastic jumping, bouncing, throwing of instruments, jumping into the audience, on to each others backs, running all over, spinning in circles…the list goes on.

Ozomatli Set list

NYC, Highline Ballroom 4/30/10

  • Dos Cosas Ciertas
  • Chango
  • Malagasy Shock
  • City of Angels
  • La Gallina
  • Ya Viene El Sol
  • Esa Morena
  • Elysian Persuasion
  • 45
  • Are U Ready
  • Intro
  • Cumbia de Los Muertos
  • After Party
  • Here We Go
  • La Temperatura
  • Saturday Night
  • Como Ves
  • Ranch
Wil-Dog Abers @ Highline Ballroom

Wil-Dog Abers @ Highline Ballroom

Man, this group just blasted right out onto the stage.  I don’t even think they walked out. They ran.  I absolutely loved it.  However, there was definitely a vibe at this show that was a little different then I am used to.  I had to put in my earplugs, not for the volume of the music but for the volume of the screeching in my ear.  When Ozomatli began, the energy just went through the roof within seconds.  But within those few seconds, the screaming females and physical shoving that commenced was a bit obnoxious.  Like when you are at a Les Claypool show and he is like “PLEASE stop mosh pitting,” and no one listens.  These cougars, yes, cougars, wanted at the men on that stage like it was nobody’s business.

Justin "El Niño Porée @ Highline Ballroom

Justin "El Niño Porée @ Highline Ballroom

So we got this ridiculous audience, a pretty tight location that was PACKED and hot, this band so full of fire that I hadn’t even focused on the sound yet.  All I realized was that I had danced away from my spot to find another and was smiling 🙂  Right off the bat, with Dos Cosas Ciertas, they brought in the Latin Hip Hop with Justin “El Niño Porée on vocals.  I was immediately aware of how tall the Highline Ballroom stage is because the band members were dancing all over the stage and the whole front row was leaning back as to not get kicked in the face. Out of control.  I moved again, still smiling.

Ozomatli @ Highline Ballroom

Ozomatli @ Highline Ballroom

Justin "El Niño Porée @ Highline Ballroom

Justin "El Niño Porée @ Highline Ballroom

Chango was a jazzy tune with Ulises Bella, apparently a jack of all trades, flipping his saxophone in between his jazzy blasts.  This song was fast as shit.  I mean, that Latin vibe was pumping through my veins and building momentum.  Justin “El Niño Porée was jumping so high, I seriously thought of basketball for some time after seeing how high he jumped. What? Yup! Weird.

Jiro Yamaguchi @ Highline Ballroom

Jiro Yamaguchi @ Highline Ballroom

Malagasy Shock gave us the funky jam and Jiro Yamaguchi was on the timpani.  Man, this guy was one hell of a fast percussionist.  His hands flew so fast, there were time I could hardly see them.  I was reminded of Daniel Sadownick and other players who hands seem to fly.  So far, all these songs were in Spanish and I could make part of the lyrics out but mainly I was enjoying the language as a separate instrument all together.

They continued with only one of the few English spoken song, City of Angels, where they all danced in a circle around the stage in unison.  Gallina and Ya Viene were more of the same. Mad energy, Latin vibe, salsa swinging hips.  The couple beside me were going insane for the band and then insane for each other.  Generally I like to dance alone, in my own world, but for this kind of music….mmmmm….I actually wanted a dance partner.  At some points, I almost NEEDED one because this music wasn’t for the individual.  It was passionate and saucy and vibrant…and there were girls all around me, no lie hahaha.  So, ladies, bring yourself a man who likes to salsa when you head to an  Ozomatli show.  Not for every song, but you will want them there for a few of them 🙂

Bella & Yamaguchi @ Highline Ballroom

Bella & Yamaguchi @ Highline Ballroom

Ya Viene was so pretty.  Ulises Bella on a Requinto Jarocho and Jiro Yamaguchi on a Tabla, pulled up to the center of the stage and played their respective instruments. Fast, tight, growing ever faster with each hit.  Out of control audience.  I recognized some pretty keys by Asdru SierraEse Morena brought in Ulises Bella on the flute.  This guy just plays everything under the moon I imagine.  It was time to wonder around at this point…I could not longer stand the front.

Ozomatli and Rubblebucket @ Highline Ballroom

Ozomatli and Rubblebucket @ Highline Ballroom

Rubblebucket & Ozomatli @ Highline Ballroom

Rubblebucket & Ozomatli @ Highline Ballroom

Ozomatli brought back Rubblebucket for Elysian Persuasion.  I had missed them, now I was very far back with my friends and couldn’t see.  Awesome. HAHAHA!!  So, I made my way up to the front and was FINALLY able to see this 5 foot awesome chick raging on a 4 foot alto saxophone with all her might.  FUCKING RIGHT!!!  Asdru Sierra screamed, “We are going to bring it back to the 80’s. To the time of Aqua Net.” Raúl “El Bully” Pacheco killed it on the rock guitar assault.

Ozomatli @ Highline Ballroom

Ozomatli @ Highline Ballroom

This was probably my favorite song of the night. Definitely the one that sticks out the most in my mind. There was hip hop but the underlying beat was funky horn driven and there was a real nice talented jam up there for a few minute instead of a performance and I loved it at that moment.  The musicians were playing and not dancing around hardly,as I don’t think they can ever switch off haha  They were focusing on their tunes, not on us. But in a good way.  Enveloped in their playing, feelin’ it…ahh, live music!

Fire Away CD

Fire Away CD

“This is a special night for us”..(everyone laughs)…”I mean, yall!!” says Asdru Sierra, in between blowing his trumpet. “We got a new album out,” he says, “called Fire Away.”  The band was still bouncing around the stage.  “45,” a slow funky song with major sax action and &  Are U Ready, an oldie but a goodie, were next.

Jiro Yamaguchi @ Highline Ballroom

Jiro Yamaguchi @ Highline Ballroom

Cumbia de Los Muertos, off their self-titled debut CD, had everyone screaming.  The clarinet was out now and they teased Bob Marley’s Stir It UpUlises Bella just chucks the clarinet  and sends it flying through the air to Wil-Dog Abers.  He catches it and returns it as we all sing along to Bob.  These guys are just straight performers.  Fun, fun! All the females up front are getting drunker now and the cameras are out.  Wil-Dog Abers shakes his butt in the cameras and these guys just pump out he sexy to their adoring fans for sure.

After Party got me movin’ pretty hard. “We love you New York, for a specific reasons.  There is always some shit poppin’.”  Everyone was side by side, doing unison dances.  People were hugging during this song.  They broke out into a modern song medley of sorts in the middle of the rage.  First it was Shaggy’s Luv Me, Luv Me but someone on stage said, “Nah! That’s whack, that’s whack.”  So, I’ll Take You There by The Staple Singers gave us a ride.

Ulises Bella @ Highline Ballroom

Ulises Bella @ Highline Ballroom

Here We Go was next which had Ulises Bella on a blowing keyboard thing.  It made a synthesizer sound that went oddly along with the underlying ozo Latin vibe.  Temperatura was dedicate to Arizona regarding that bullshit immigration law!  There was a huge salsa rage and lots of horns. Couples everywhere knockin’ into people. No one cared.  And then in the middle of Saturday Night one by one they jumped off the stage…

Empty stage after entire band lept into crowd!

Empty stage after entire band lept into crowd!

They raged the remaining few songs in the middle of the venue. Each and every member of the band.  I’ve been told that this is a common happening.  I can see why though.  For at least another 10 minutes the band raged in the center of the venue.  The entire audience shifted around on the floor and the stage was now empty.  I could only imagine the view the people on the top floor of the venue were getting.  Certainly a great show!  I leaned against the stage for the remainder of the set, watching this insane tornado unfold in front of me.  Pretty soon there was a conga line and they made about four passes before walking out the door.  And the show was over.

Entire Ozomatli crew ragin in the middle of venue!

Entire Ozomatli crew ragin in the middle of venue!

This is the kind of show where I will never be able to reach that intense maximum high that you get from first time experiences.  When you don’t see those kind of things coming in the performance, they are real treats, exciting and fun!  Which is exactly what this was. This was totally fun but  I wonder what to expect next time as now know these big moments of flare are coming.  In the end, they are ragers with energy for sure who put on a great performance.  Definitely one I will make sure and catch again sometime very soon…next time with a dance partner 🙂

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