Ozomatli in Greenroom Festival @ Red Brick Wirehouse, Yokohama (May. 23rd, 2015)

Ain’t no party like an Ozo party!
Live Report : “Ain’t no party like an Ozo party!” @ Red Brick Wirehouse, Yokohama 2015.05.23

Ozomatli

There’s some bands whose music is better suited to listening intently at home, maybe on headphones or good speakers. Then, there’s bands who seem built for the live setting, providing that something special that you could never get from a recording. It’s the reason we go to live concerts; trying to find that magic that only really good live bands possess. Ozomatli eats, sleeps and breathes in this second category.

Back in Japan once again, the Ozomatli boys brought their famed, Grammy award-winning show here for 3 dates; first playing Greenroom festival, then two intimate nights at famed Tokyo jazz club, Blue Note. Ozomatli, now in its 20th year has been a favourite in Japan since its first appearance at Fuji Rock Festival back in 2000. Since then, they’ve been back on a regular basis rocking clubs and festivals all over the country as recent as last year’s main stage performance at Fuji Rock.

Ozomatli Ozomatli, whose name references a God of dance, is a mishmash of East L.A. music cultures of funk, rap, reggae, salsa, jazz and more. They fit in perfectly with the laid back, west coast vibes that Greenroom festival oozes of. With the festival well under way, there were solid performances leading up to Ozo but once they hit the stage, I knew things were going to be kicked up a notch or ten. 30 seconds in and Ozo was back their element, the bar for those to follow had been instantly raised up to the nosebleeds. Their set time, clocking in at a little under an hour seemed a bit short for a band 7 albums deep, but with great live bands the set time always feels a bit short. Their afternoon performance consisted of blazing solos, a bit of banter, in both English and Japanese, (Japanese courtesy of drummer Jiro Yamaguchi) mixed in with solid hits such as “Can’t stop” and “Saturday night”.

The Greenroom audience was dancing, shouting, moving and grooving the whole way through. Ozo is a band that really feeds off its audience. Worldwide, Japanese audiences have a stong reputation for being very receptive and today was no different. The sun was beating down, Ozo was working up the few thousand faithful and we were fanning the flames burning up on stage right back.

OzomatliUlises Bella on sax stood out playing blistering solos, then switching to harmonica and other percussion instruments seemingly all with ease. Trumpeter Asdrubal Sierra had a lively call and response going with the crowd that didn’t seem possible. The crowd however, was more than up for the challenge of keeping up with Ozo, following them wherever they pleased right till the glorious end. The end of the set, which isn’t really an end, finished in typical Ozomatli style with the band grabbing a few instruments and continuing the party marching off into the distance. I’m sure they will be back in Japan before long, no doubt joining them will be some of Greenroom’s newly initiated Ozomatics.

–>Photo Report

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Photos:
Miyuki "Sam" Samata
sam@smashingmag.com

Miyuki "Sam" Samata's Works

Text:
James Mallion
james@smashingmag.net

James Mallion's Works

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