ChocQuibTown Demonstrates The Power of Music

Back in Bogota from Medellin a few hours – all other plans for the night cancelled when a friend told me ChocQuibTown was playing a gig in Bogota.

I had to go yes? Six years on from my 1st ChocQuibTown gig in Bogota –my introduction to Colombia’s amazing fusion music bands. I love their Pacific Coast hip hop/Afro Colombian/funk fusion music.  I had to choose to have the live ChocQuibTown experience again.

ChocQuibTown at La Puerta Grande

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So, what was different in 2013?

Venue

The 2007 ChocQuibTown gig was at Quiebra Canto– a bar well known for live music in a very down to earth (some would say dodgy) central area of Bogota.

The 2013 ChocQuibTown gig was at La Puerta Grande – a very upmarket bar in a very affluent Bogota suburb known as Parque 93.  My 1 drink of the night was truly the most expensive drink I’d bought anywhere in the world before.  La Puerta Grande might be a little pretentious – but it’s also a really nice space with some cool decor, beautiful ambient lighting, even big palm trees growing out of the floor. ChocQuibTown @ La Puerta Grande - Bogota 2013 - Beaver on the Beats

People

Much less than at the 2007 gig (30 mil pesos tickets-alot of $ in Colombia-might have been why?). Selfishly it meant more space to dance.

Vibes were fine, vibes were good.  Slightly subdued maybe? Lacking a fire perhaps?

Basically the overall Quiebra Canto experience in 2007 was much more fun and lively than La Puerta Grande one.

ChocQuibTown Music

Chocquibtown’s songs were awesome to listen and dance to in 2007, and even more awesome to listen and dance to in 2013.

The quality of singing, rapping & toasting by the 3 principal members of ChocQuibTown (Slow, Goyo & Tostao) was faultless.

ChocQuibTown @ La Puerta Grande - Bogota 2013 - Beaver on the Beats

Slow, Goyo, Tostao

There was 1 big difference between the 2007 and 2013 gigs. As well as Slow on beats, ChocQuibTown also had a fantastic, funky live band (including horns) with them.  For me that made all of the music (including vocals & raps) sound more full and alive. The band was a great surprise.

ChocQuibTown @ La Puerta Grande - Bogota 2013 - Beaver on the Beats

The songs they played seemed to have more funk flavours than before – and I loved that cause in the end funk’s probably my most favourite music genre, just.

Set Time

I am guessing that ChocQuibTown’s set was about 45 minutes long?  However long it was it felt really, really short.  I wanted much more.

ChocQuibTown @ La Puerta Grande - Bogota 2013 - Beaver on the Beats

Check out these videos of ChocQuibTown’s La Puerta gig yourself…

 “The Power of Music”

One last thing I want to share about the ChocQuibTown gig: A friend I went there with said this to me afterwards (referring to some comments made by ChocQuibTown about the recent killing of a U.S citizen near Parque 93 and the government and media propaganda around it:
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If people talk about those type of things in a political discourse in Colombia they can be killed.  If musicians say them it’s okay. That’s the power of music. 

ChocQuibTown live in Bogota, Colombia 2013

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Zalama Crew – Best New Colombian Fusion Music Find

I was going to give La Feria de las Flores events in Medellin a miss this year.

Changing my mind and going to Sunday’s Negra Noche (‘Black Night’) – part of the Parque Cultural Nocturno program in La Feria de las Flores – was a blessed thing for the three new musical discoveries I made.

1. ZALAMA CREW

One of those new finds is Zalama Crew – my first taste of fusion music from the Colombian city of Cali, and my best new Colombian music find this time around in Colombia.

Zalama Crew live at Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

Zalama Crew at La Feria de las Flores

Zalama Crew at Negra Noche were 9 guys:  4 singers/emcees (Dr Rata; Bing; Maik Cel; Osound); Bass (Andres); Guitar (Frank); Drums (Alvaro); DJ CronicVJ Paul Dub.

Zalama Crew - La Negra Noche - 2013 - www.beaveronthebeats.com

Note – nine band members on stage and no live horns (their usual sax/flute player missing) – and I didn’t even notice until it was over.  That’s a good sign.  The music was so  full and engaging that I didn’t miss the live horns like I usually would.

Zalama Crew dub themselves ‘urban world music lovers’ – a good description given the diverse mix of music they create. I heard so many different flavours in the mix – all blended together seamlessly and played with such style – Hip Hop, Electrónica, Jazz, Drum & Bass, Bossa Nova, Cumbia, Punk, Soul/R&B, Salsa, Rock, Dub, Dancehall & Ragga.  I might have forgotten some!

Zalama Crew live @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

The performance of this collective was really energetic and engaging – especially with the individual and combined vocals and raps of the 4 different singers and MCs moving around the stage.

Zalama Crew concert in Medellin, Colombia 2013

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Those singers and MCs + the interesting sounds mixedup by DJ Cronic + the instrumentation &  musicianship of the band  = a really cool mix of diverse and original sounds.

Zalama Crew live @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsZalama Crew live @ Negra Noche del Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

I am loving all the VJ’s in the Colombian fusion bands I’ve been catching live – and VJ Paul Dub from Zalama Crew was no exception.  Very cool, interesting, beautiful visuals.

Zalama Crew live @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsZalama Crew live @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

I loved most of the songs Zalama Crew played at Negra Noche – and my body wanted to dance.  There were a couple of the slower songs I was less into, but the performance was still stellar and kept my eyes and ears glued to the stage every moment.

Zalama Crew were simply awesome.

I have Zalama Crew’s EP Everyday Fight to take home with me and check out – but I imagine the live experience of this group is where the most magic is at– like I always hope it will be with any musician.

Short video of Zalama Crew’s show here…

 

On top of my Zalama Crew find – Negra Noche introduced me to 2 other phenomenal bands – 1 fusion band and 1 band as traditional as they come.

2. BIG BAND TENNESSEE JAZZ UNIVERSITY

The Big Band Tennessee Jazz University – a big band from the University of Tennessee in the U.S. – put on an incredible show of funk and jazz music.  The quality of the musicianship was stellar, as was the fun and energetic stage show.

Big Band Jazz Tennessee University @ la Negra Noche de Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

Big Band Jazz Tennessee University

Super short video from the end of the Big Band Jazz Tennessee University concert here…

3. LAS ALEGRES AMBULANCIAS

The 3rd phenomenal act I found, closing Negra Noche, was Las Alegres Ambulancias.

Las Alegres Ambulancias @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsLas Alegres Ambulancias @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

Las Alegres Ambulancias hail from San Basilio de Palenque, a town on the Colombian Caribbean Coast.  The Palenqueras are special in that they have completely preserved the African traditions and language originaly bought to that region of Colombia with the slaves during the Spanish conquest.

The music of Las Alegres Ambulancias was traditional Palenquera music, pure as they come.

Las Alegres Ambulancias @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsLas Alegres Ambulancias @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsLas Alegres Ambulancias @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

It was a really special show for me, and everyone else in the audience, especially proud Palenqueras.

Negra Noche del Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsLa Negra Noche del Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

And note Las Alegres Ambulancias’ beautiful female bass player:

Las Alegres Ambulancias @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

Video of Las Alegres Ambulancias’ show here…

Ever so happy I took myself out to friendly, good vibes, open air Negra Noche to experience 3 incredible shows by 3 special bands new to me.

Zalama Crew + Big Band Tennessee Jazz University + Las Alegres Ambulancias – muchas gracias!

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