With so many KEXP DJs and listeners being rabid fans of Bogota’s Bomba Estéreo, it’s not surprising that Seattle is their top-selling market in the U.S. And it should definitely come as no surprise that the Colombian band, which appeared twice live on KEXP in past (here and here) and on last year’s Live at KEXP Volume Six compilation, would sell out their most recent show in our city. What was surprising was their choice of venue. Known mostly for hosting American roots flavored music, Ballard’s Tractor Tavern became a dancehall on Saturday night when Bomba Estéreo took the stage.
KEXP DJ Darek Mazzone prepped the crowd with an hour-long Latin-leaning, beat-heavy mix as fans squeezed closer to the stage and got ready for the main act. Despite a few early technical problems, Bomba Estéreo started their set without much delay. Bassist and songwriter Simón Mejía and guitarist Julian Salazar came on-stage first, with Kike Egurrola on drums. As they started a long intro, Julian on the electronic control pad and Simón on bass and loops (while trying to get his bass cabinet to come on), the tension grew more and more intense until finally singer Liliana Saumet walked on, dressed vibrantly, as she’s apt to do — sparkly blue shirt, black leggings, tall black Doc Martens, and a peacock feather headdress. The long instrumental jam turned into “Caribbean Power” (the same song they opened with during their set at Bumbershoot, back when it was so new, it didn’t have a name). Song after song followed, new and old, as they mixed cumbia, champeta, reggae, and electronica, while never losing a punk edge. Fans clamored, hollered, waved, and reached out to Liliana for fist-bumps and handshakes. Shouts of “Co-lom-bi-a!” and “Bo-go-ta!” rang out, louder especially as fellow Colombians in the audience recognized and hugged each other.
The 12-song set grooved on for nearly two hours, culminating with the blazing fan favorite, “Fuego.” The band left the stage momentary and Simón came back saying how much the love Seattle and want to stay. And then, at nearly 1AM in the morning, said that they’d play for another hour! I wasn’t sure I heard that right but thought, “Hell, if they keep playing like this, I’d stay up all night.” But maybe something was lost in translation or they were told that another hour just wasn’t feasible, because one new song, “Alma y Cuerpo” and an extended version of “Raza” ended the long, ecstatic, dance-filled night.
No doubt, Bomba Estereo will be back to Seattle as soon as they can, but if you’re in another city, check out their website for other dates in May. They’re live in Austin tonight!
la cumbia sicodélica
música para bailar
alma y cuerpo