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Ozomatli Is Bringing Their Party To Ruido Fest This Saturday

By Chicagoist in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 9, 2015 7:00PM

Ozomatli, photo by Sandra Dahdah from the band's Facebok page

Despite recent personnel changes, the members of Ozomatli have been playing together as a group for over 20 years. Originally formed to play at a protest benefit at the Peace and Justice Center, the group has made philanthropy a major focus ever since.

This writer first met them over five years ago, when they headlined a non-profit show for the Environmental Media Association. Their activism is reflected in the TED Talks they have given, along with the political lyrics contained in a few of their songs. It’s not all that serious, however. Ozomatli is best known for bringing a party wherever they go, and they're coming to Ruido Fest this Saturday evening.

This group loves to play music, and it comes across every time they take the stage. Their energy is infectious. You can’t sit still and often long to jump on stage with them—and we have—just to be a bit closer to the fun you see them having. In the audience, strangers become friends as you high-five other people watching the show. You hug and smile at people you don’t yet know, as you share in the experience taking place all around you. Live shows are the best way to experience the music of Ozomatli—all inhibitions are lost as everyone in the room gets caught up in the celebration.

Photo by Lucy Rendler Kaplan
Each member of the six-piece band exudes inclusiveness and kindness. This inclusiveness is also reflected in their music, fusing varying styles together from different parts of the world into one unique sound.

The band, Ulises Bella (clarinet, requinto, jarocho, keyboards and melodica), Wil-Dog Abers (bass, vocals),Raúl “El Bully” Pacheco (guitar, tres, jarana, vocals), Justin “El Niño” Porée (percussion, rap vocals), Asdrubal Sierra (trumpet, keyboards, vocals) and Jiro Yamaguchi (drums, tabla, percussion, vocals) effortlessly mesh hip-hop, salsa, samba, funk, cumbia, jazz…you imagine this is what you’d hear driving on a hot summer’s day through the streets of Los Angeles or New Orleans.

The true highlight of any Ozomatli performance is when members of the band come off the stage and into the audience, carrying huge drums and horns with them, joining with their fans. Using their instruments, the band creates a drum line that fans are encouraged to join, walking through venues while chanting either “Ole, ole, ole” or “Ozo-Mat-Li…Ya se fue!”

If you have seen an Ozomatli performance before, you know that the show changes for every performance, but you can always expect a high-octane, high-energy night. This group knows how to play to an audience, whether it’s their joking and chatter between songs, or Porée's shimmy and shake (you’re welcome, female fans). If you haven’t yet seen Ozomatli, expect to be drawn in, and to have a buzz carried along with you for many hours after you leave.

Ruido Fest is July 10-12 at Addams/Medill Park, 1301 W. 14th St. 3-day tickets are $154.99, or $254.99 for VIP. Daily tickets start at $54.99.

By: Lucy Rendler Kaplan