Time and again, Bomba Estéreo has brought the future of Latin American music to the rest of the world. Riding the wave of buzz thanks to their song "Fuego" in 2009, they were christened by countless publications as the next big thing in Latin music. It was well-deserved - the Bogota, Colombia band was turning traditional Colombian music on its head by melding it with elements of psych rock, reggaeton, and electronic music. Though they’ve made it to Howard Theatre three times in the last few years, they had never played 9:30 Club until now. Less than a week after their latest LP release Ayo, they played to a sold-out crowd that was ready to party like the Colombians do.
The core duo of singer/rapper Liliana Saumet and producer Simón Mejía were supported by a live backing band complete with Latin percussion. There were conga drums, gaitas (wooden flutes used in traditional Colombian and Native American music), and giant guiros (a ridged piece of wood struck by a stick, similar in musical function to a washboard). These instruments gave the live versions a unique flair on songs like EDM-driven closer "Fiesta," but it provided the strongest boost to "Que Bonito" and their untitled champeta (a type of Afro-Carribbean dance music that originated in Cartagena, Colombia) that could get people on their feet at any dance party. The high-tempo Latin percussion and hype-man vocals from Diego Cadavid made all the difference here as the crowd used what precious little space they had to get down. And unity was the theme of the night - "Internacionales" is not just a party-starter, it's also a statement. As the song goes in Spanish, “I’m Colombian, I’m American, I’m a citizen of the world.” No matter what language everyone spoke or what color their skin was, everyone was there for the same reason - to have a great time together. And like Saumet said that night, what the world needs is more dancing.
Opening for Bomba Estéreo was Christine Moritz, a DC-based DJ who often makes the rounds at Eighteenth Street Lounge and 9:30 Club (she recently opened for Balkan Beat Box when they visited 9:30 Club earlier this year).