Sweatshop UnionDate: 17 April 2009
Venue: Commodore Ballroom
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Buying tickets to Ozomatli is never a bad idea. Their energy and talent make for a spectacularly upbeat evening. Opened by Sweatshop Union, the evening was energetic and fun. Thanks to a crazy random happenstance, I snagged free last-minute tickets to see Ozomatli last time they came to the Commodore in Vancouver. When they appeared on my list of upcoming concerts, I didn’t even think twice before I clicked “buy tickets.” The concert began on a high note and just kept getting better. Sweatshop Union, a group I am less-than-familiar with, opened the evening with great energy and vigour. Hailed as one of Canada’s top selling independent hip hop artists, this collaboration of Vancouver-based artists break the mould of white gangsta rap stereotypes. Five guys on stage with a DJ could not have produced such a show without a passion for their art. Although I was a little perturbed by the moustache of the guy in the red trucker hat, I could not deny their talent. Check out their upcoming shows as they tour BC and perform around North America!

Ozomatli took its time coming on stage, but when they did the crowd went wild. Although more than half of the audience had never seen them before, Ozomatlithey were remarkably well received. Hailing from the city of angels, their LA-flavoured music is great for dancing and partying. Their music cannot be described better than on their bio: “a notorious urban-Latino-and-beyond collision of hip hop and salsa, dancehall and cumbia, samba and funk, merengue and comparsa, East LA R&B and New Orleans second line, Jamaican ragga and Indian raga.” In their fourteen years together, they’ve toured the world and made impacts on both the culture of music and global awareness. Notorious for being anti-war, Ozomatli has been awarded such honours as being named U.S. State Department Cultural Ambassadors, hoping to promote peace and understanding through the global language and culture of music. Energetic collaboration from all eight members meant that everyone but the drummer was moving around the stage and changing instruments for different songs.

Their inspired performance makes me feel that buying their album would be a disappointment in comparison, because seeing them live makes one question how they could possibly be as good on an album. While the talent would be there, it is hard to transmit 3D energy from a 2D disc. I’ll be interested to buy an album and see if I can recreate the feeling I get from their shows.

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