Tacos y ‘Ozo’

On September 24, I had the opportunity to take my family to see a group of musicians that have long been special to me, the guys of Ozomatli from Los Angeles.

The band performed at the Rockin’ Taco Street Fest 2022 in downtown Chandler, Arizona. Some of the core members were missing (Wil-Dog Abers, Justin Poree and lead vocalist Asdru Sierra) but it was great to see Raul Pacheco, Ulises Bella and Jiro Yamaguchi plus a bonus — rapper Kanetic Source who goes back more than 20 years with Ozo.

The festival had a really good vibe, and parking in a nearby garage was free. It was a little clunky getting into the festival with a wagon loaded with two toddlers and chairs, but we got through it fairly quickly.

The price of two adult tickets with kids getting in free was next to unbeatable.

Once inside, we quickly found out which stage Ozomatli was using and to our pleasant surpise, despite the 100-degree heat, there was space near the barrier between the stage and the public viewing area with shade, very close to the stage. We set up our chairs right there.

Ozomatli has a connection to sports. The band has a long history of making songs for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and has performed prior to a Los Angeles FC playoff game. They also performed a reimagined rendition of ESPN’s NBA broadcast theme music in 2013.

But that night in Chandler, it was good to see the group play their best high-energy songs, like “Paleta,” “Gallina,” “Cumbia de los Muertos,” “Chango,” and others. And at the end, they did their traditional end-of-show samba procession through the crowd that at ended in the impromptu jam session without microphones or speakers, just musicians, instruments and happy concert-goers.

I have had the fortune of seeing live Ozomatli shows from Seattle (including an exclusive show at Starbucks headquarters) to Spokane, Wash., to Tucson, Phoenix and Scottsdale, Ariz. The first time was at Bumbershoot, a huge music festival in Seattle, in 2000.

They never disappoint.

In short, a great move to book Ozomatli for an event of this nature. The band has been to Arizona many times in the past and played in nightclubs, theaters, the City of Phoenix’s Cinco de Mayo street celebration and now, the Rockin’ Taco Festival. My family, even my kids ages 9, 4 and 4, had a great time dancing and when it was all over, we enjoyed the tacos.