Circolombia Brings Urban Cali to Brisbane

“I’m gonna tell you about my life. Real life.

When I was 15 my life was very different.

I lived in one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods of Cali, Colombia, known as 13-13.

And you just can’t imagine some of the things I’ve seen…

Circolombia - Urban -

But my life changed when I discovered ***circus*** …”

Circolombia - Urban - Brisbane-2013-

Circolombia - Urban - Brisbane-2013-


The scene is set there for Circolombia’s current stage show Urban: in the real (and challenging) lives of  Circolombia artists growing up in urban Cali, Colombia.

Circolombia - Urban -

It is being performed in these days at South Bank Piazza as part of the Brisbane Festival 2013.

Caleno Dance

Urban is like watching a gritty and raw Colombian stage version of the dance drama movies I love so much (from Shirley Temple to Flashdance to Street Dance). There is some cheesiness in all of them, but I love them anyway.  I loved that Urban was full of dance (with some salsa flavours), and that it told real life stories.

Circolombia - Urban -


On top of the dance this Circolombia stage movie has non-stop phenomenal acrobatic and circus acts by incredibly talented artists.

Circolombia - Urban -


Circolombia - Urban -

La Musica

Urban also has live vocals & raps  – with a backing soundtrack of music mixing mostly hip hop & reggaeton, some electronica and a tiny dash of salsa.  I didn’t even mind the reggaeton music in Urban – the visual show was too amazing to care.

I’ve yapped about reggaeton a lot but never given a sample of it. 🙂 . Here’s one reggaeton track from the Urban SoundTrack…

‘Noche Adrenalina’ – Circolombia – Urban Soundtrack


+ 1 non-reggaeton track…

‘Mano a Mano’ – Circolombia – Urban Soundtrack

Dance + Circus + Drama + Music.  All of that (+ 1 more thing) for me made Urban a very cool show to watch from start to finish.  I was either smiling for the dance; or my body was moved to move to the music; or I was on the edge of my seat making “wow’ and “oooohh” noises for the Circolombia artists performing their insanely great but risky pieces.

from the ground to the top along a rope yes

From the ground to the top along a rope yes

Visual Cali

The ‘1 more thing’ was the visual arts.  For me they were an absolutely integral and beautiful part of the Urban experience.

The pre-show visuals took us on a journey of a Colombian boy travelling through the streets of Cali on the back of a collective bus.

Those moving images put me in the streets of Cali before the performers even graced the stage.

Screen visuals shown throughout the actual performance of Urban then kept me in the streets of Cali with the artists as they narrated real Caleno life through music, dance and circus.

Circolombia - Urban -

“Cali es Cali”

Circolombia - Urban - www.beaveronthebeats.comCircolombia - Urban -

Check out videos from the Urban show here…



Circolombia bought urban Cali into Brisbane. Since ya all know by now how much I love Colombia, that made me extra happy.  I could keep going back to see Urban again and again – the same as I can keep watching Flashdance over and over again 🙂 .

Circolombia - Urban -

Urban is on in Brisbane until this Friday, 27 September.  Get there if you can.

Supporting Arts for the Disadvantaged

All of the Urban artists were students of Circo Para Todas – a non-profit, professional circus school in Cali for disadvantaged Colombian youth.  Circo Para Todas is currently running an important campaign to raise much needed funds to erect a new big top tent, install a floor and seating and run an opening show at the new venue. To learn more about the program and to make a donation, visit the site.  Spread the word to all your friends!

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DJs With Bands = Musical Diversity +++

Many of the fusion bands I have heard live in Colombia (and/or have on CD), have a DJ in the musical mix.   Those DJ’s play a fundamental part in the diversity of sounds created by the band as a whole.

Live music is the ultimate musical experience for me.

A great DJ to dance or listen to is also an awesome musical experience.

The 2 combined: DJ + a band = musical diversity +++, live.

A DJ can create any and as many different sounds as he/she wants yesMusicians can’t do the same thing with instruments, can they?

Combine the musicians and the DJ’s (+ of course emcees & vocalists), and you have complete musical freedom to be as diverse as you want yes? The sound possibilities are endless.

Or no? 

Add a VJ into the mix and you have visual diversity with the auditory yes?

Official sites of these groupsBajo Fondo – Bambarabanda – ChocQuibTown – Dubioza Kolektiv – Mitu – Papaya Republik – Pulenta – Sidestepper – Systema Solar – Troker – Zalama Crew


Reviews of gigs, sample music & other info about these groups by Beaver on the Beats @Bajo Fondo –  Bambarabanda –  ChocQuibTown – Dubioza Kolektiv –  Mitu –  Papaya Republik –  Pulenta –  Sidestepper –  Systema Solar –  Troker –  Zalama Crew

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Bajo Fondo & Systema Solar – Muchisimas Gracias

Good music makes me feel happy.

Amazing music makes me feel incredibly happy, and alive.

Two Latin fusion music collectives I experienced on Friday night at Bogota’s Teatro Metropol made me feel that way. The live Bajo Fondo and Systema Solar experiences were an audio & visual delight that have put a smile on my face for days.

BAJO FONDO  (formerly Bajofondo Tango Club)

Bajo Fondo

Bajo Fondo at Teatro Metropol

Basic low down:

  • Collective of 8 musicians/composers/singers from Uruguay and Argentina
  • Fusion of tango/ electronica/ murgacandombemilonga/ hip & trip hop/ drum & bass/ rock/ house/ chill
  • Guitars/drums/percussion/bass/vocals/live visuals/sequences/piano/scratching/bandoneon/dj sets/violin.

Sounds interesting yes? It is.

For years I’ve been listening to and loving Bajo Fondo’s first two albums Bajofondo Tango Club and Mar Dulce. But the live experience of Bajo Fondo exceeded all hopes and expectations, and was more sublime than words can convey.


Talented musicians and composers – High quality compositions – Ridiculously interesting and unique sounding music – Beautiful visuals – and a super positive and high energy stage presence.


This was undoubtedly the very best live electronic music gig I have experienced in my life so far.

Need I say more? No – because you can check out the Bajo Fondo website to learn more about them, buy their music, and find the live experience wherever in the world you can.

Short videos from the Bajo Fondo gig here:



Systema Solar - Teatro Metropol- 2013-

Systema Solar at Teatro Metropol

Basic low down:-

  • 7 Colombians from the Carribean coast forming a musical/visual collective with “a strong emphasis on worship, dance and joy”
  • Fusion of  porro / cumbia / fandango / champeta / hip hop/ house/ techno/ breakbeat/ scratching
  • Turntables/singing/emceeing/percussion/ video jockey/dance
  • Super cool costumes

Spectacular live performance by Systema Solar at Teatro Metropol that had me smiling from ear to ear.

I doubt there is any group on this earth right now that sounds like Systema Solar do – and that makes them pretty special.

Awesome visuals too. It was cool that during some songs the stage lighting was dimmed so as to obscure or totally silhouette the music artists, allowing the focus to stay on the movements and bright colours of the visual arts.

Systema Solar live @ Teatro Metropol - Bogota 2013Systema Solar live @ Teatro Metropol - Bogota - 2013

The use of traditional Afro-Carribean styles in Systema Solar’s music meant that there were moments in songs, especially some vocal sounds, which reminded me of the sounds of Australian Indigenous group Yothu Yindi, infused with Latin sounds.

Systema Solar - Teatro Metropol6-2013-

Systema Solar’s proclaimed mission (a paraphrased Beaver translation from espanol) is:

To radiate the best of our energies to the world, and in each new stage of orbit to continue to assume our biggest challenge in this life – to be happy. Come dance with us…

Systema Solar live @ Teatro Metropol - Bogota - 2013

Systema Solar achieved that mission in abundance on Friday night. Blessed was I to have shared it, and dance I did!

Dance did everyone – illustrated by my favourite people moment of the night:

Seeing (in true & beautiful Colombian style) four uniformed venue staff succumb to the music, dance, smiles and positive high energy around them in the space.

I noticed them longingly watching everyone around them dancing. The moment came when they asked themselves “Can we?”.  Then answered “Yes, we can.  Why not?” So dance  they did – with the rest of us.  All smiling we were.

I highly recommend checking in to Colombia or somewhere else in the world to experience the Systema Solar collective live.

Check out these videos of Systema Solar at Teatro Metropol:



Muchisimas Gracias to Bajo Fondo & Systema Solar for a warm and happy welcome back to Bogota!

Bajo Fondo - Live - Teatro Metropol - Bogota - 2013Systema Solar - Teatro Metropol- 2013-


I’ve already said it, I’m saying it again today, I suspect I’ll say it many more times before I leave Colombia again: I am ridiculously-happy to be back in this country to enjoy all the amazing and diverse musical feasts on offer.

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