Radical LA band to play free

Issue 

Radical LA band to play free

By Norm Dixon

SYDNEY — Ozomatli, a politically and musically incendiary band from Los Angeles' sprawling and distressed working-class suburbs, is coming to Sydney for three free concerts at Darling Harbour. No self-respecting radical or music buff should miss Ozomatli's renowned energetic extravaganzas, the highlight of an otherwise over-expensive and under-inspiring Sydney Festival.

The 10-piece band provides a musical snapshot of LA's contemporary urban street culture, in which rump-shaking percussion and horns of the many varieties of the African-derived dance musics of Latin America fuse with hip hop, funk and thrash. Throw in Indian tablas and other cultural flavours of LA's working-class majority, and you have a hell of a party.

Ozomatli is not ashamed of its radical politics. The band was born out of a struggle for workers' rights and gained its initial popularity by its preparedness to use its talents to raise money and awareness for many worthy and radical causes — from benefits for the Zapatistas and framed death-row activist Mumia Abu-Jamal to breast cancer awareness campaigns.

Despite its growing popularity and fame, Ozomatli continues to perform for causes that matter.

The exuberant songs and raps on Ozomatli's self-titled album (on Almo Sounds through Festival) uncompromisingly condemn police brutality and racism and expose the evils of capitalism.

Catch Ozomatli free in Sydney at Darling Harbour at 7pm, January 21-23. The band will also appear at Sydney's Big Day Out on January 26, at the Perth International Arts Festival on January 27-28 and at Melbourne's Big Day Out on January 30.