Picture Show

Picture Show: Ozomatli @ Irving Plaza

Ozomatli @ Irving Plaza – February 3rd, 2011

Jam bands tend to try and be a little bit of everything to everyone. And a lot of the time they just fall flat as pale imitators. Hip-hop acts tend to recognize their “roots.” Sometimes this comes off as phony; just another way to try and gain “street cred.” Last Thursday evening at Irving Plaza, there was a party goin’ on. Sly would have said that at moments, it was worthy of a riot. But what exactly was being played? I’m still not totally sure. But I know one thing: Ozomatli rocked the house making a cold Winter Thursday night feel like a “Saturday Night.” And the audience in attendance could have cared less what type of music was coming from the stage.

[All words and photos by Marc Millman]

According to Wikipedia, in a 2007 NPR interview, band members Jiro Yamaguchi and Ulises Bella described Ozomatli: “You drive down Sunset Boulevard and turn off your stereo and roll down your windows and all the music that comes out of each and every different car, whether it’s salsa, cumbia, merengue, or hip-hop, funk or whatever, it’s that crazy blend that’s going on between that cacophony of sound is Ozomatli, y’know?” And if you dance your way through one of their almost two hour sets, you will see that this is the perfect description. The band has varied in size since its inception in 1995. Thursday night’s shows featured seven members that included the core six found in every incarnation.

Over the course of an 18-song set, the band bounded from rock to soul to funk to reggae to hip-hop to cumbia and back again. One really did feel as though they were making their way down Sunset. And while Asdru Sierra (lead vocals, trumpet), Raul Pacheco (lead vocals, guitar) and Justin Poree (rap vocals, percussion) led the band through their paces, the crowd got a taste of all sorts of genres. But never without a bit of rock to smack your ass while you were busy shakin’ it.

READ ON for more of Marc’s thoughts and photos on Ozomatli…

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