Like most people who first hear the name, "Ozomatli" and promptly forget it, I was a bit sceptical about a band branded as a "3 time Grammy award winning latin, salsa, hip-hop, jazz, funk band." But like most people I was stung by the curiosity bug (I probably caught it from my cutey cat). It's a damn good thing I went. For the next two hours, I was witness to 11 musicians, around 30 instruments and a few 100 people finding it impossible not to get up and dance. Hell, I couldn't even keep my hips and feet still while clicking away.
Ozomatli take their name from the Nahuatl word for the Aztec astrological symbol of the monkey, which is also a god of dance, fire, the new harvest, and music. Other than the harvest (which came after the show with the musicians, wink wink) there was plenty of the other stuff going around. It was like someone had detonated a whole trainload of dynamite and the explosion was Ozomatli. They blended forms, genres, styles, grooves and melodies and released them as a sound that cut through instead of ending up in one giant mess. Their evident individual brilliance contributed to a tight set, marred only by the terrible acoustics at the Ambhedkar Bhavan.
Each cog in this machinery could play atleast 3 instruments, sing their hearts out and then locate the energy to perform a few breakdance routines. And they weren't the only ones dancing. At first the security guards seemed reluctant to let the more entusiatic elements in the audience up on stage to do a jig of their own but they were quicky reprimanded by the band, who thrived on this sort of thing. At first there were a few guys and lo and behold, they could actually shake that thang. They were interspersed by gawky wannabes, filmy dance fetishists and even the occasional minimalist but the star turn of the evening was undoubtedly a portly elderly gentleman who had some serious groove going. He had a blast and so did the band.
But all these stragglers hardly sufficed so by the end of the show, Ozomatli had the ENTIRE audience on stage dancing with them, doing the train, doing the shake, doing just about anything possible to keep up with their supersonic pace. They took that pace into the audience and then out of the auditorium, beating a frantic tattoo all the while.
Chuck the grammys, chuck the genres, chuck the complicated name, these guys rocked our friggin' brains out that night.