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Tuesday, January 31

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Review Mon Jun 06 2011

Review: Ozomatli @ Congress Theater

For two hours Friday night, Ozomatli was exuberance personified.

That's been their game since they emerged from Los Angeles in the late '90s: an only-in-L.A. brew of rock, salsa and hip-hop tossed with an earnest message of social consciousness and a high-energy show sure to punch through the ironic detachment and cynicism of the most jaded Pitchfork reader.

They turned the Congress Theater into a summer block party with a potent seven-man attack featuring trumpet, saxophone, guitar, bass, drums and loads of percussion. The horn blasts and rock riffs of "Saturday Night" and "City of Angels" got the crowd moving, and salsa favorites like "Chango" and "Cumbia De Los Muertos" had them shaking their hips.

And in closing, Ozomatli cemented the communal vibe with a flourish, wading into the crowd after the lost World Cup anthem "Como Ves" to lead a joyous parade around the dance floor and up into the lobby. Reconvening on the marble steps of the grand ballroom staircase, the band ended with a kinetic drum circle that sent hundreds of sated fans buzzing out onto Milwaukee Avenue and into the warm night.

Sure, the lyrics are mostly up-with-people stuff just this side of the Black Eyed Peas (e.g., "Imagine waking up, solidarity is evident / Harmony moves, time is irrelevant"). They're the reason Ozomatli, 16 years in, have been embraced as exemplars of non-threatening, feel-good multiculturalism by venerable institutions ranging from the U.S. State Department to the National Symphony Orchestra to seemingly every politician in L.A. They have expanded into kids' music ("Ozokidz"), including tracks for the new "Happy Feet 2" video game.

But unless you insist on getting all your music from sneering teenagers, it's hard to fault Ozomatli for growing up and making a decent living for themselves. They're hardly the only band to mature into a robust business in middle age.

Opening act Making Movies, a Kansas City quartet, was noticeably more uneven, engaging the crowd with a few hip-shakers but missing the mark on songs that betrayed their roots as a straightforward indie rock band.

Ozomatli had the crowd jumping immediately with its signature brand of summertime salsa. As they told NPR (NPR!) a few years ago, it's a melting pot of everything you hear driving around L.A. with the windows rolled down.

But on a warm Friday night, they were glad to be here with us.

"There's no place like Chicago," guitarist Raul Pacheco told the crowd. "It's got its own vibe."

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

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  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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